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Microreactors: Lessons Learned From Industrial Applications

By Raf Reintjens and André de Vries, DSM |

Implementing microreactors in chemical production is quite a challenge. How these challenges can be met is described here At the heart of a chemical process is the reactor, where the conversion of reactants to products occurs. Depending on the need for efficiency or flexibility, the chemical process industries (CPI) optimize their processing “solutions” towards continuous, world-scale plants for bulk chemicals, or to batch operated, multi-product plants for complex fine chemicals. The struggle to stay competitive and deliver high quality product at low cost drives the industry towards the use of increasingly larger-scale reactors. This economy-of-scale principle helps to lower the cost level, but also imposes serious limitations on mass- and heat-transfer, often resulting in moderate space-time yield or productivity.   PI as an engine for innovation Process intensification (PI) takes a different approach to optimizing reactions. When looking at the underlying fundamental physical and chemical processes and fluxes that occur during a chemical conversion, we can define an “optimal pathway” for the molecules [1, 2]. The aim is to fulfill the needs of the reaction, in the sense of bringing reactant molecules together in…
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