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MATCH: a structural approach to choices in process technology

29 Sep 2014

A technical consultancy service that helps companies to make sound process technology choices when innovation is required: that is MATCH, or matching advanced technology to chemistry. Because the experts at TNO investigate not only the technology but also the business case, MATCH produces fast, practical results, enabling companies to save a lot of money.

'A manufacturer faced with choosing a technology will often go for the approach he already knows', points out TNO Senior Consultant Dr Wemke van der Weij. 'If it turns out in due course that the technology doesn't work, modifications will be needed that can cost an unnecessarily large amount of money. MATCH enables us to ensure that companies are far less likely to make mistakes of that kind. We help to show them what choices of technology there are for a particular chemical process. We can do that because of our broad perspective on the choices available. In our laboratories we have not just one reactor but several, we've been working for a wide range of companies for decades, and moreover we're completely independent as a centre of expertise.'

Chances of success

The secret of MATCH lies in the combination of a business consultant and a technical expert who get together with the customer right from the first meeting. Van der Weij explains: 'That way we can look very carefully at what is actually needed in consultation with the customer. And at the same time that combination enables us to zoom in on questions about results: what is and is not possible. We calculate all the aspects in a quick scan, not just technical performance but also all the business aspects, such as depreciation and payback time. With our expertise we help the customer to place the high-grade technical knowledge – not only ours but also the customer's, of course – in a business context. We work on actually launching the technology so that it will be successful. By taking a broad perspective on the selection process, a company has much better chances of success.'

Interaction

One of the customers who has recently taken advantage of MATCH is a pharmaceutical company. Project Manager Gerhard Reeling Brouwer of TNO clarifies: 'The company provided us with a number of process characteristics: they were particularly interested in separating substances. So we first identified suitable existing and new separation technologies. Then we ranked them based on the requirements. Separating two raw materials requires different technology than removing impurities from a substance at ppm level. In the first instance we based the ranking purely on expertise. Now that we've separated the wheat from the chaff, as it were, the next stage is to move forward experimentally. The special aspect of this project was the interaction: the pharmaceutical company provided technology on which it had the expert knowledge, and we contributed technology that we know more about.'

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