Our work

Intensified separation technology

To be able to manufacture chemicals more efficient the number of separation steps in downstream processing has to be decreased. This can be realized by integrating and intensifying separation processes so that energy consumption and costs will decrease and quality improves. TNO therefore focuses chiefly on separation processes which have a high selectivity and low energy consumption.

Applying innovative separation technologies

TNO applies innovative technologies in converting 'classical chemistry' to 'new chemistry'. We have a track record in the following technologies:

  • Crystallization: Crystallization is an example of a separation technique with a high selectivity. In general, crystals are a hundred to a thousand times purer than the liquid in which they grow.
  • Extraction: A second highly selective separation technique on which TNO is concentrating in this respect is extraction. Reaction mixtures seldom only consist of the product but also of solvents, by-products and raw materials which have not reacted. You do not want to have to separate these components one by one using different techniques, but to separate the product, very selectively and in a single step, from all the other components. Extraction has the potential to do just this.
  • Membrane-technology: TNO is also working on the combination of extraction and membrane technology, whereby the membrane provides a large and stable contact area so that the reaction mixture and the extractant stay separated. Membrane extraction has already been successfully applied in water treatment, and the step towards using this technique for chemical processes is the next milestone.

New generation

In our development programs, TNO works on new generation separation technologies which use external forces such as centrifugal forces, electric fields and microwave radiation. The implementation of a reaction or separation in a centrifuge can, for example, lead to much compacter equipment. In the development of more sustainable energy supplies, the proportion of electricity generated by the sun and wind will increase. TNO is working on reactions and separations which use sustainable electricity as their driving force instead of heat from fossil fuels. One example is a crystallization process in which acids or bases are made in an electrochemical cell. In the future, plants which run mainly on electricity could, for example, be built next to a wind park.


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