Dr. ir. Leon Geers
- transport phenomena
- process intensification
- experimental data analysis
- mathematical modeling
- flow chemistry
Chemical companies are wise to switch to new technologies to intensify their processes: more efficient production, higher yields, high quality products that require less raw materials and energy to make and have a lower impact on the environment. TNO has been researching these aspects and supporting companies in the transition to Continuous Flow Technology for some time now.
The introduction of process intensification sometimes entails far-reaching changes in existing industrial operations. Process engineers in the chemical industry are used to organizing processes on the basis of technologies which have proven themselves over decades. Switching to totally different techniques and processes seems risky and may involve enormous investments. On the other hand, companies are currently under pressure to use raw materials and energy responsibly and to reduce their waste problems, thus making their activities as sustainable as possible. TNO recognizes this dilemma and has studied the issue carefully to guide chemical companies to a future in which they switch to new techniques whereby sustainability and profitability go hand in hand.
TNO has developed various types of continuous reactors for Continuous Flow Technology which result in a higher conversion, selectivity, quality and safety. An example is the TNO Helix® reactor, which is highly suitable for exothermic reactions. As a result of its wide, in-depth know-how of all the available technologies, as well as its independent position, TNO is able to advise companies on the most promising methods for increasing the efficiency of their chemical processes, with technology developed in TNO and by third parties. Continuous reactors may be a good alternative to the traditional batch process. In this role, TNO supports both the chemical industry when there is insufficient time or money to test new flow technologies or reactors, and the builders of the plants. The latter often concentrate on one type of reactor whereas they could widen their markets by learning about other chemical processes via TNO.
TNO also maintains good contacts with universities around the world which focus on innovations in chemistry.TNO brings various parties in the chain together to realize actual innovations. A recent example is the CoRIAC project in which chemical companies, equipment suppliers, system designers and a university cooperate successfully. After lab research was carried out by TNO on the reactions in a special continuous reactor, the consortium is now building pilot plants to test the process under practical conditions on a larger scale. TNO's multidisciplinary approach, in which chemists, chemical engineers, physicists and other scientists cooperate, offers companies new insights from which surprising innovations often arise.