In the production of margarine, vegetable oils are hydrogenated to make them solid at room temperature. Such hydrogenations are reactions in which hydrogen substitutes other elements in a substance or is attached to free double bonds. The production of many chemicals or pharmaceuticals is based on hydrogenation reactions. Hydrogenations are often multiphase reactions, i.e. gaseous hydrogen, liquid reaction partners and a solid catalyst are involved. At present there are mainly two processes which allow such reactions to be carried out. Frequently, process engineers mix the liquid source material and catalyst powder in a vat into which hydrogen gas is fed from below. Another possibility is production in a loop reactor, which requires a high energy input for product separation. In both approaches, the reaction proceeds slowly and long development times are needed for commercialization. KIT scientists of the Institute of Microprocess Technology (IMVT) developed a chemical reactor made up of three different metal foils arranged in layers. The first layer has ducts through which a coolant can be passed. Also the second layer is equipped with ducts which can be permeated by hydrogen gas. The liquid reaction partner is passed over the surface of the third layer. This layer is covered with pillars roughly half a millimeter in diameter, and is filled with catalyst powder. The pillars ensure uniform distribution of the liquid and the catalyst. The metal foil is also perforated by small holes, allowing hydrogen gas and the liquid to contact each other and react so as to generate the desired product. The modular layered structure allows the chemical reactor to be adapted flexibly to production volumes; it lends itself in particular to the production of special chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Compared to established techniques, it allows higher reaction temperatures to be employed, makes production more energy-efficient, and achieves shorter product times-to-market. The KIT is looking for partners for further development and application of the microstructured reactor.
Your contact person for this offer
Dr. Rainer Körber,
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Innovation Manager, Innovation and Relations Management (IRM)
Phone: +49 721 608-25587