Process Intensification and Transformation

Innovation of chemical processes, both incremental and radical. That’s the focus of the Process Intensification and Transformation (PIT) innovation program. More information about this program.

Projects

This alphabetical list includes both completed and ongoing projects.


Process Intensification and Transformation – Program Details

What?

This innovation program targets process innovations that can be incremental, i.e. improvements of existing processes or new ways to perform existing processes, as well as radical, i.e. breakthrough innovations leading to completely new processes.

On the one hand, process intensification is mainly focussed on energy efficiency, resource efficiency, the reduction of waste, and process safety. We look at technologies like flow chemistry, energy-efficient separations, new reactor design, alternative solvents or waste-heat recovery. Besides the improvement of individual processes, the integration of processes is important too. This will result in processes that are safer, cleaner, smaller and cheaper.

On the other hand, we work on more radical process transformations that will enable the use of renewable energy in our processes like electrification and adaptation to variations. We also work on Carbon Capture & Utilization (CCU) and look at the cost-effective production of hydrogen and its potential as a chemical feedstock. In the field of renewable energy and energy carriers (hydrogen can also be used as an energy carrier), the chemical sector is not in the driver seat, but as a major energy user and provider of technological solutions, the chemical sector plays an important role in this evolution.

Digitalisation as a major driver of innovation plays an important enabling role in this program. New digitally enabled solutions improve process control and operations’ efficiency and reliability. These new solutions can further optimise processes, for example through sensors, model predictive control and predictive maintenance. In addition, these new solutions can also improve production management, for example by considering product quality, as well as the energy and resource efficiency of connected processes and plants.

Why?

The improvement of processes in the chemical industry, to reach better energy and raw material use efficiency, is important from both an environmental and an economic perspective. Continuous incremental improvements of processes are crucial to achieve an environmental footprint that is as low as possible, as well as a competitive position compared to the rest of the world.

We also work on more radical transformation of processes in the chemical industry, as this will be needed to realize significant greenhouse gas emission reduction and avoidance in our own sector as well as in other sectors, which will ultimately contribute to reaching the climate goals. Furthermore, new processes will be needed for the realization of a circular economy.

Goals

The goal of this program is to, each year, develop several improved processes that are safer, save energy, save resources, produce less waste, are more flexible, and/or deliver higher quality.

In addition, in the longer term, we want to develop a number of radically new processes that not only enable the sustainable transformation of the chemical industry, but – through its services and products – also the sustainable transformation of other industries. This way, the chemical industry will take on a crucial role in the sustainable economy and society of the future. Every project within this program has the clear ambition to deliver one of the following:
  • an improved production process in the chemical value chain that contributes to both increasing the economic and decreasing the environmental impact of the current process, or
  • a crucial step forward in the development of a radically new process, which in turn will contribute to the sustainable transformation of our sector (as well as other sectors)

    Topics

    Focus topics include continuous processing, separation processes, electrochemical processes, CCU, hydrogen, energy efficiency & electrification, and finally digitalisation.

    Context

    This innovation programm is linked to Biobased Value Chains (through intensification and transformation of biobased conversion processes), Circularity and Resource Efficiency (through the reduction of waste and CCU), as well as Advanced Sustainable Products (through safer processes). Moreover, digitalisation acts as an enabler in all of these programs. There is also a partial link with the third and fourth Moonshot Research Trajectories, respectively MOT3 Electrification & Radical Process Transformation and MOT4 Energy Innovation. Follow-up trajectories of successful MOT3 and MOT4 projects can fit in this program.

    Active companies

    Companies active within this program include, but are not limited to: 3M, Agfa, Air Liquide, Ajinomoto BioPharma Services, Allnex, BASF, Borealis, Cronos Group, Deceuninck, Devan, Eco Treasures, ExxonMobil, Fraxinus, Gova, INEOS, Indinox, InOpSys, Janssen, Molecular Plasma Group, P&G, Port of Antwerp, Samsonite, Soudal, Tectero, and Total.

    Discover the other innovation programs and dive into our focus topics by checking out our full Innovation Agenda.