Emerging technologies & Process intensification

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Process Intensification

Process Intensification as a method of optimization technology


The current developments of the rising commodity prices of energy and other raw materials give great occasion to think about technologies that minimize the energy and capital costs of the business processes, thoughts. With these developments, a quick and broad application of innovative process intensification , the consumption of raw materials can be minimized. Earlier it was with PI often a reduction of the company and its processes (planning miniaturization) (eg, by merging of process steps, substitution by new technologies, etc.) linked and this is still a hallmark of PI.

By reducing the size of equipment and when the safety of processes is greatly increased, as eg in the processing of hazardous substances by the smaller plant size, smaller amounts come at once for use in hazardous situations and thus the potential of an explosion or fire, etc. is reduced. In addition to the miniaturization of the process units and the increase in process reliability ,PI plays a significant role in improving the quality and reducing the costs of energy use, material use and waste .

In PI , the limiting factors (eg heat transfer, heat conduction) can be overcome by use of Emerging Technologies. Processes which increase process efficiency, by exploiting synergies between processes and targeted process control are more efficient "Producing much more with much less " can occur in smaller devices. Such optimization technology creates great potential for process efficiency improvements and the integration of renewable energies in the processes is made possible reinforced. PI thus contributes significantly to sustainable production.


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Figure 1: Process Intensification- An overview


In addition to system optimization and optimization technology, it is another approach to reducing energy and resource consumption, especially of fossil fuels. The use of renewable resources offers the possibility, especially in the provision of energy to conserve resources and reduce the consumption of non-renewable.


Process Intensification principles and strategies


The goal of PI is to achieve optimal function of the process . Four basic principles are taken into account :


  • Maximize the effectiveness of intra-and intermolecular events
  • Give each molecule the same processing experience
  • Optimize the driving forces on every scale and maximize the specific areas to Which Those driving forces apply
  • Maximize the synergistic effects from events and partial processes


In order to obtain an optimized and enhanced process, three different PI strategies that are not expected to be independent and can be integrated with each other,have to be pursued:

  1. minimize the equipment size: merging of two or more process steps through the use of synergy effects to a new or equipment that allow to combine several functions in one step; and structures (eg, structured tower floors) in apparatuses lead to smaller equipment sizes
  2. maximize process efficiency: among other things, Reduce energy consumption and increase throughput / productivity through improvements or overcoming limitations in mass and heat transfer, eg by the use of new forms of energy (microwaves, infrared radiation, etc.) by selective application of energy to a particular molecule or particle, or through the use of structures (structural floors in distillation columns)
  3. maximize process control: among other things, Change from batch processes to continuous processes, enhancing quality)


As the use of Emerging Technologies is an essential criterion for obtaining Process Intensification and a consideration of such ET for selected processes is essential.


Emerging Technologies

This mainly includes membrane processes, micro or radio frequency waves, pulsating method, inductive and resistive heating methods, ultrasonic, ultraviolet light and other lighting technologies, high-pressure processes, etc. In addition to the reduction of thermal energy consumption, the use of ET also for reduction of the process temperature levels are significant. As a result, thermal degradation of the product due to high temperatures and long processing times can be prevented. By lowering the temperature level , an improved solar thermal integration can be further achieved, since the panels work more efficiently at lower temperatures.

Emerging Technologies defines those technologies that do not correspond to the state of the art and have not yet reached market maturity for specifically examined applications, but can be where there is sufficient based on data from laboratory and pilot plants .There is great potential for for this work in the future for widespread industrial applications primarily due to higher energy efficiency,higher process reliability and due to an improvement in product quality. In order to follow a holistic approach to the ET also offers good possibilities for the integration of renewable energy sources.

Categorization of Emerging Technologies


Pereira et al takes a categorization of ET by thermal and non-thermal technologies. The non-thermal ET is technologies without the action of thermal energy to reach the "target" of the process (concentration, drying, pasteurization or sterilization) and thereby to overcome the limiting factors of the conventional thermal process. These include, for example, some membrane separation process (osmotic membrane distillation, reverse osmosis, microfiltration or ultrafiltration, etc.) for the concentration of food or the high-pressure pasteurization process.

The thermal ET is technologies that produce or use thermal energy in order to achieve the goal of the process . These include, inter alia, also microwaves while generated by electric power, but their use is accompanied by the generation of thermal energy and thus heating of the product. In the thermal ET, a further subdivision could be identified. Those technologies that improve the limiting factors (eg heat transfer) and those technologies that achieve overcoming the limiting factors. During the drying process, novel thermal dryer, eg structured beds , only to improve the heat transfer by the creation of a larger surface, while through the use of microwaves, in which the water is evaporated in the inside of the product and is pressed by the increasing internal vapor pressure of the water from the inside to the outside , the limiting factors can be completely overcome.

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Figure 2: Overview of Emerging Technologies


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