Chemical Reaction Engineering and Process Engineering

 

Biobased processes and products and sustainable carbon management are challenging headers for chemical reaction engineering as well as process engineering. Poor economic competitiveness is a huge obstacle for many processes and products, inducing the need of new synthesis, isolation and downstream process concepts.


Apparatus Design

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is gaining importance in apparatus design due to the rapid increase of computational power during the last years. Even though the physical reality is still far too complex to be predicted in detail, many essential operation and design parameters can be obtained from CFD simulation and the apparatus can be optimised via “virtual experiments”.

Goal of the current research activities is optimisation of the compartment geometry, for which only empirical design rules exist so far.

Single-phase simulations of the continuous phase can be applied in order to optimise the geometry in terms of axial mixing. By systematic variation of the compartment aspect ratios, the optimum geometry with the lowest deviation from plug flow can be figured out.

By coupling the Euler-Euler-Model (dual-phase-flow) with Population Balances (DPB), coalescence and break-up of the dispersed droplets can be taken into account.

Research goal is the development of CFD-based design rules for the RDC (Rotating Disc Contactor) compartment geometry.


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Biomass to Liquid

BtL or Biomass to Liquid is the hypernym for the production of synthetic energy carriers out of biogenic, sustainable sources.

BCtL - Biochar to Liquid is the target step of BtL Processes and focuses on conversion of biogenous feedstock to biogenic liquid energy carriers.

The European fuel market is facing two major challenges. One challenge is the rising need of motor fuels which is at present satisfied with rising imports. The second challenge is to meet the directives of the European Commission to increase the amount of biofuels within the field of motor fuels to 10% until 2020.

Latter target cannot be achieved with established technologies and processes. New complementary technologies are required to suffice this goal. This is the reason why the Institute of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology in cooperation with the industrial partner BDI BioEnergy International AG sets its aim to develop a technically simple, cheap and sustainable process for the liquefaction of lignocellulose. Preliminary research activities in the field of liquid phase pyrolysis were accomplished with promising results. The next milestone in the liquefaction of biomass was achieved by catalytic and non-catalytic chemical modification of the biogenic feedstock (Biochar). The BioChar to Liquid Process (abbr. BCtL) resembles liquefaction of coal. The major difference to established technologies for production/synthesis of liquid energy carriers is that the process is completely based on biogenic, CO2-neutral feedstock.

The experiments are carried out in a high-temperature reactor with the aim of liquefying solid, biogenic feedstock.

Complete or partial oxidation of constituents is the key to elimination of persistent pollutants (POPs) from aqueous effluents. Several Advanced Oxidation Process Technologies, such as photochemical processes, electrochemical processes and even Corona discharge, may offer successful treatment of POP laden effluents.


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Process Intensification/Reactive Separations

The biorefinery rarely has to manage high grade chemicals and easy to separate mixtures. Separation and isolation of valuable products is very often faced with low grade multicomponent feed. Reactive separations and combination of chemical synthesis with separations may contribute to raising the competitiveness of biobased products. Following the process intensification principles of changing the properties and/or changing the state we try to overcome thermodynamic limits and to raise the economic attractiveness of biobased products.


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Advanced Oxidation Processes

Complete or partial oxidation of constituents is the key to elimination of persistent pollutants (POPs) from aqueous effluents. Several Advanced Oxidation Process Technologies, such as photochemical processes, electrochemical processes and even Corona discharge, may offer successful treatment of POP laden effluents.

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