Efficient processing

One of the great challenges facing the chemical industry is to become more competitive by specializing and serving niche markets. Businesses want to place high-grade products on the market in a better and quicker way than their competitors. TNO develops technologies, methods and business models for the chemical industry to be able to manufacture smaller quantities of various products continuously in a flexible and scalable manner.

A higher yield and selectivity are the aim, with sustainability and safety being of prime importance. More efficient production can be achieved by, among other things, continuous flow chemistry and electrochemistry. These are chemical production processes in which TNO is highly specialized. For example, we help industry in the transformation from an efficient production system to a system for product development that is as efficient as possible. Smart, flexible production methods also enable businesses to launch new products more quickly and cheaply.

Process System Engineering

In designing new processes and production systems, TNO adopts a top-down process system engineering approach. The client informs us of the required functionality, and combined with the key performance indicators and technology readiness level (TRL) TNO independently makes a choice between various technical components needed to go through the desired process steps. Examples include reactor technology, separation technology, and process analysis and control. Using this MATCH method, we take essential decisions in close collaboration with the client and facilitate the transfer of knowledge. We then acquire the missing information by experiments on laboratory, bench, and pilot scales. This approach helps the client take the right technological and business decisions for investment in a new process installation and thus cuts the risks considerably.

Small-scale and modular

TNO focuses here in particular on fine chemistry, specialities, and the pharmaceutical industry. These industries can renew their production processes by switching to or beginning small-scale, modular production of smaller quantities of products with high added value. Many businesses are therefore looking for methods and technologies that are easily scalable. Flow chemistry offers a good many benefits that meet these needs. TNO has extensive experience with tubular reactors, such as the Oscillating Baffled Reactor (OBR) and the Static Mixer Reactor (SMR) and our own Helix® reactor. In fine chemistry and pharmaceuticals, tubular reactors are principally suitable for highly toxic processes, or those entailing safety issues such as explosiveness or flammability. The smaller volumes limit the quantity of hazardous substances in the reactor. In addition, much higher product quality can be achieved in these sectors.


With knowledge partners and businesses, we develop new technologies for the electrification of the chemical industry. Electrochemistry offers the sector great opportunities. This technology enables chemical transformations to be achieved much more selectively under lower pressure and temperature. In addition, this means much less waste production and raw material consumption. Increasingly sustainable electricity is becoming available from the sun and wind. However, the supply from these sources is by definition highly variable. By building small-scale chemical installations at windmills or solar panels, in future the industry will be able to directly harness this sustainable electricity. But there are also opportunities in the short term. We are investigating how, via electrolysis and electrosynthesis, we can find methods of enabling the chemical industry to better profit from higher selectivity in combination with sustainable energy from electricity. This means a gain on three fronts: lower energy costs, sustainability, and new high-grade products.


‘Green’ hydrogen covenant South Holland signed

12 December 2017
TNO is working on the energy system of the future. We always do this in cooperation with partners. The Covenant for a Green Hydrogen Economy South Holland: test bed Energy Island Goeree-Overflakkee (H2G-O)... Read more

10 million for developing sustainable raw materials for chemical industry

01 December 2017
Biorizon partner, TNO, ECN and VITO and the Province Noord-Brabant are jointly investing 10 million euro in the development of bio-aromatics. The four parties made this announcement in Antwerp during... Read more

Chemical industry and electricity sector develop solution together

02 December 2015
'VoltaChem' is an innovation programme enabling chemical companies and the electricity sector to make substantial reductions in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. TNO is encouraging businesses to join... Read more

Sustainable Chemical Industry

Martijn de Graaff MSc

  • chemical
  • formulation
  • separation
  • process
  • modular


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