Many industrial processes are inefficient in the use of energy and raw materials. Reactions take place in which often only part of the raw material has been chemically converted leaving the majority unused. ECN part of TNO is therefore working on separation and conversion technologies to recover residues and reuse them in the process. This will contribute to a circular economy, save a great deal of energy and reduce CO2 emissions.
The aim here is to close cycles by optimising the design of industrial processes for the use of raw materials and the reuse of waste and process streams. In many cases, valuable components can be recovered from the residual flows.
Closing the chain
ECN part of TNO contributes to the further development, scaling up and realisation of innovative technologies and systems to close material and energy chains in the process industry. The emphasis lies on developing key technologies such as membrane separation, adsorption, ion exchange and electrically driven separations such as membrane capacitive de-ionisation (MCDI). Many of these technologies are already being used in niche applications, but large-scale application in industry still requires a great deal of research.
Expertise and facilities
Through the combination of technical expertise and thorough knowledge of process technology, we bring together various parties, such as end users, technology developers and suppliers. The most important sectors here are chemicals, food, paper and steel. ECN part of TNO has extensive test facilities for various separation and conversion technologies and for the production of prototypes.
From discharge to recycling
A practical test will be carried out for the removal and reuse of salt from process water. Salts are often formed in industrial processes. Instead of discharging them, which is forbidden in the long run, they can be recycled in an energy-efficient way using the technologies we have developed. We also develop nanofiltration membranes to recover valuable metals from chemical processes in an energy-efficient way.
In the Netherlands, everything is geared towards achieving energy savings of 20% by 2020. Energy-efficient innovations in industry make an important contribution to this. One of the solutions is the energy-efficient recycling of solvents. Through the use of HybSi membrane technology, we have succeeded in dehydrating solvents from the process, making them suitable for reuse. This saves as much as 40% to 50% of the energy costs compared to existing technologies such as distillation.
Sustainability and business
We transfer promising technologies to industry after successful lab tests and then pilots. It is a question of ensuring that they are actually applied. This is important for an energy-efficient industry and, at the same time, offers opportunities for new market entrants. In this way, sustainability and new business go hand in hand.