Step by step toward more efficient chemical synthesis

Aug 13, 2012
Step by step toward more efficient chemical synthesis
© Thinkstock

Chemical engineering conventionally divides the process from raw materials to finished product into unit operations. EU-funded researchers developed software tools to evaluate integration of two or more units for optimisation of chemical synthesis in a broad range of applications.

Unit operations include such activities as separation, purification, mixing and reaction processes. More modern methodologies strive to integrate two or more steps into multifunctional units to improve product quality and yield while decreasing , waste, environmental impact and .

The overall process of chemical reaction and separation to obtain desired products and recyclation of (reaction and separation) is an active area of research with the goal of exploiting synergies for process design and optimisation. Combining separation and reaction in one continuous reactor concept has the potential to greatly increase speed and efficiency of the conversion process.

Development of generic integration software tools for a range of alternative processes related to the chemical, pharmaceutical and electronics industries was the motivation behind the ‘Integrating separation and reaction technologies’ (Insert) project.

European scientists conducted both theoretical and experimental work, with the latter designed to provide the necessary data for model development and validation.

In addition to identification of computer hardware/software and numerous chemical test systems, investigators developed measures of environmental impact, cost effectiveness and safety.

Pilot plants were set up and six different chemical systems and alternatives were investigated. Reactions were integrated with separation techniques including distillation, adsorption, membrane filtration and the use of dividing wall columns.

Overall, the Insert consortium successfully designed, modelled and analysed promising multi-unit processing equipment including both new technologies and emerging ones.

The database formed the basis of generic computer-aided process engineering tools that promise to advance the state of the art in multi-unit chemical processing for optimisation of reaction-separation sequences in many related chemical fields.

Explore further: Researchers introduce new layered semiconducting materials as silicon alternative

Related Stories

Microscale Chemical Factory

Jul 04, 2007

Miniaturization is invading the world of chemical syntheses. Since typical chemical syntheses take place in several reaction steps with various separation or purification steps in between, microchemistry has almost always ...

Recommended for you

Substrates change nanoparticle reactivity

1 hour ago

(Phys.org)—Nanoscale materials tend to behave differently than their bulk counterparts. While there are many theories as to why this happens, technological advances in scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) ...

Reviving cottonseed meals adhesives potential

3 hours ago

Cottonseed meal—the leftovers after lint and oil are extracted from cottonseed—is typically fed to ruminant livestock, such as cows, or used as fertilizer. But Agricultural Research Service scientists ...

New concrete composite can heal itself

4 hours ago

In the human body, small wounds are easily treated by the body itself, requiring no further care. For bigger wounds to be healed, the body may need outside assistance. Concrete is like a living body, in that ...

Actuators that mimic ice plants

4 hours ago

Engineers developing moveable robot components may soon take advantage of a trick plants use. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam and Harvard University in Cambridge ...

Aromatic couple makes new chemical bonds

22 hours ago

Esters have been identified to act as a new and clean coupling partner for the carbon-carbon bond forming cross-coupling reaction to make useful compounds for pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and organic materials.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.