Development of a Center of Expertise and Pilot Production Installation for Industrial Flow Processes in Flanders

The fine-chemical processing industry in Flanders is to date still almost exclusively organized in terms of relatively large multi-purpose batch installations. Mainly under influence of the pharmaceutical industry in Europe and the US, a lot of research efforts have emerged in the field of continuous processing in the last decade. At first, this research was mainly focused towards small scale laboratory work, in the last couple of years more and more reports of pilot-scale and even full scale production developments in flow chemistry are being made. With the exception of some individual companies, the fine-chemical processing industry in Flanders is currently lagging behind in its adaptation of continuous processing.

With the ATOM project, the consortium wishes to make a start in building a true knowledge platform around flow chemistry in Flanders, and to investigate the feasibility of a flexible flow chemistry pilot production installation that would be open for contract manufacturing and pilot production for interested partners. By bringing together four industrial partners with a keen interest in this new technology and four academic groups with a proven track record in this field, we plan to make a serious step in the direction of anchoring the continuous processing knowledge needed to implement this technology in the Flemish chemical processing industry. Specifically, the main goals of this project can be summarized as follows:
  • Evaluate a number of specific processes from the partnering companies under flow conditions and prepare them for scale-up, if appropriate. The processes to be studied will cover a wide span of reaction conditions (multiphase, highly exothermic,…) so they can be considered to be generic for other applications from current and possibly future partners as well.
  • Gather the design input needed for the development of a multipurpose pilot plant flow reactor to produce pilot quantities of identified materials
  • Setting up a scientific, technological and economical centre of expertise for flow reactors, available for broad use by the Flemish chemical industry
Target Group
Companies exploring the possibilities of flow technology to increase their production efficiency. Assuring that the scientific and technological knowledge is available and accessible, together with an accessible pilot plant facility, it will be possible for both the industrial partners from this project and other interested parties from within the Flemish chemical community to make a well-motivated choice between batch processing and flow processing for different chemical processes.

Learn more about the technology

Project Details
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 18/06/2014
Duration: 31/08/2014 – 31/10/2016
Total budget: €1.695.572
Subsidy: €1.325.140
Project Partners

Plant on a Truck

The valuation study Plant on a Truck (or POAT) aims to contribute to the creation of a new company, Avore, which provides integrated, chemical-technological solutions for the valorization of process (side)streams through flexible, modular and mobile units.

In a first phase, the focus within Avore will be on the on-site recovery of pharmaceutical and chemical secondary flows, that cannot be recycled or valorized within the current process (non-core for the process/business). The goal is to treat the secondary flows on site, close to the production process, to eliminate the use of holding tanks and central processing. The mobile, modular units will be constructed in a way that they can subsequently be used for the valorization of other process (side)streams (= flexible units). But first, the most appropriate business model should be optimized to attract (additional) investors. To support the business model, technological proof of concept is needed for a number of side streams. During proof of concept the economic feasibility can also be evaluated.

Both the pharmaceutical and chemical industry are investing in sustainable processes. They do this partly by making use of process intensification, which should lead to safer processes, less emissions and waste, less consumption of energy and raw materials (energy and atom efficiency), smaller systems, lower costs and shorter time-to-market. Alternatively the companies invest in sustainability by using renewable raw materials in their processes. This shift of the typical petroleum-based industry to a more biomass-based industry requires not only new conversion processes, but also more flexible, modular and even mobile installations for reaction and separation that enable a more intensified approach. In addition to a broad chemical expertise this transformation also requires thoroughly understanding process technology (= translate the chemical solution in an efficient process) and process engineering (= translation of the process in an operating system) to be able to actually realize and implement the most viable chemical solution. Avore will combine this knowledge and translate it to practical solutions for its customers with a strong emphasis on modular and transportable production units, which the company will produce itself.

Press Publications
Mobiele zuiveringsinstallatie haalt zink uit proceswater – NPT Magazine – 18 May 2020