STPI: Developing new methodologies for in the service of process intensification

Leader: Karine Loubière

Microreactors, a tool for intensification

Micro-reactors: a tool for intensification

Due to the small quantities of products required and their gsafe operation, microreactors are powerful investigative tools for rapid acquisition of basic physico-chemical data and, therefore, for the design and sizing of intensified continuous devices for industrial production. In recent years, this methodology has been successfully applied to various reaction systems, such as the transesterification reaction of vegetable oils with ethanol [1], the polymerization of vinyl chloride in a drop [2], and more recently photochemical syntheses [3] [4] [5]. Such an approach is based not only on expertise in the design and technical production of microreactors adapted to the reaction system studied, but also on the development of online measurements for monitoring the reaction (near infrared, Raman, UV). The modeling of the coupled phenomena prevailing within the reactor (i.e. kinetics of (photo) chemical reaction and heat , mass and momentum transfer, and possibly radiative transfer) is the foundation on which this methodology is based. The level of maturity acquired by the team on this theme was notably materialized by the realization of various industrial services (Sanofi, Pierre Fabre, Seppic…) whose common objective was to assess the feasibility of the batch to continuous process shift.


Reaction media and activation techniques

In this thematic, intensification is approached from the point of view of activation techniques and reaction media. One or more activation techniques have been developed to develop biobased raw materials. This is the case, for example, of the study of glycerol transformation. The reaction is envisaged by coupling a catalysis step (acid, heterogeneous, SILPC) with an activation step (electrochemistry …).

This study is the subject of several collaborations: within the chemical engineering laboratory (IRPI department), within the INPT (LCA, LCC) and internationally (Malaysia, C.S. Lee thesis)

Compact milli-reactor-exchangers.

Process safety at the heart of intensification

In the “Process safety” theme, we apply scientific and technical skills to develop methods for quantitative analysis of process risks, to develop tools for the safe operation of processes and to analyze models for evaluation of the consequences of accidents. In addition, we are developing an original approach applied to continuous intensified reactors, where the evaluation of their intrinsically safe nature is carried out according to an experimental approach coupled with a dynamic simulation approach. These actions are notably supported by two ANR projects (PropreSur “Clean and safe processes, towards the chemical workshop of the future”; PolySafe “Safe operation of a continuous intensified exchanger reactor for multiphase reactions”) and by a research industrial project in collaboration with the ICSI institute about the parametric sensitivity analysis of a modeling tool for the consequences of accident scenarios.