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Fakultät BCI

Finished Projects

Within the project “Optimisation-based design methodology for membrane-assisted separation processes”, which is funded by the “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft” (DFG), a design methodology for membrane-assisted processes for the separation of azeotropic multicomponent systems should be developed. Hybrid processes comprising the unit operations distillation, pervaporation and vapour permeation are considered in the methodology. The project is carried out in cooperation between the laboratory of fluid separations and the Process Systems Engineering Group at RWTH Aachen University. The core tasks of the laboratory of fluid separations in this project are experimental investigations in lab- and pilot-scale, detailed modelling of the unit operations involved and optimisation-based process design using evolutionary algorithms.

Within the project „Energy Efficiency Management“, which is supported by the federal ministry of education and research (BMBF) in case of the activity “technologies for sustainability and climate protection – chemical processes and use of CO2”, a management- and benchmarking-system for energy efficiency should be developed. The aim of this project is to reduce the energy consumption of process industry by more than 20 %. In addition to the laboratories of APT and FVT from TU Dortmund University and the Group of Process Systems Engineering of RWTH Aachen University, six industrial partners are involved in this project. The laboratory of FVT will mainly deal with the investigation of energy-efficient, organoselective membrane processes.

Extraction which is based on the miscibility gap of aqueous two phase systems (ATPS) is a principal possibility to concentrate proteins. These systems are composed by adequate polymers, salts or ionic liquids. However, this ATPS has to be tailored concerning the mixture of the components for a special separation task. Up to now the used polymers are mainly polyethylene oxide and dextrane. The fundamental idea of this research project is the extension of the material base by the application of hyperbranched polymers. In contrast to linear polymers „smart”, hyperbranched polymers with different functional groups and different architectures which influence the thermodynamic behaviour and the miscibility gap can be synthesized. A further advantage of hyperbranched polymers in fluid separation is the low viscosity compared to linear polymers. The application of hyperbranched polymers instead of polyethylene oxide as component of the ATPS is experimentally highlighted by the example of a hyperbranched polyesteramid, where the partitioning of the amino acid (L-Serin) on the two coexisting phases is in the center of attention. The modeling of the phase equilibria which are the basis of the extraction can be realized by a thermodynamic model which accomplishes for the polymer architecture and the functional groups of the hyperbranched polymer. The thermodynamic model is the Lattice Cluster theory (LCT) combined with the Wertheim Theory. Using the LCT enables the incorporation of the polymer architecture which is determined by the chemical structure in the Helmholtz energy. In order to calculate the phase equilibria the LCT will be extended on quaternary systems, because the LCT is applied on ternary system up to now. The received expression will be used to calculate the phase equilibrium consisting of water+hyperbranched polymer+Dextrane+L-Serine. Within the scope of this project the possibility to calculate the quaternary phase equilibrium based on the limited number of parameters which are fitted on the binary and ternary phase behaviour will be analyzed. In addition to the phase equilibria the mass transfer across the phase interface also plays an essential role for extraction processes. Based on the LCT in combination with the Wertheim theory the mass transfer will be theoretically examined, whereas differences in chemical potential are the driving force of the mass transfer. The theoretical results will be verified by experiments in the Nitsch-cell. If this project is successful the material base of the ATPS would be considerably extended and a tailoring for a concrete system would be possible, whereas a closed theory for the phase equilibria and the mass transfer would be provided.

Main goal of the project „Modular bioproduction – disposable and continuous (MoBiDiK)“ is the development of innovative production technologies for monoclonal antibodies to increase the efficiency of biopharmaceutical production by application of single-use-technology, continuous process engineering and modular units. Besides the laboratories of plant and process design, fluid separations and thermodynamics of TU Dortmund University, laboratories of RWTH Aachen University and Fachhochschule Aachen participate in the project. Furthermore, several industrial companies are joining the project which is coordinated by Bayer Technology Services. The laboratory of fluid separations investigates the extraction of monoclonal antibody via aqueous two-phase systems.

The sub-project ProTerpen of the NRW research cluster "Sustainable Chemical Synthesis - SusChemSys" deals with resource saving and environmentally friendly syntheses that are potentially interesting for the chemical industry. In collaboration with the laboratories process dynamics and operations, technical chemistry A and thermodynamics the development of a reactive extraction process for the hydroamination of terpenes is carried out.

The goal of the workgroup "Absorption ­– Global Standard" is to develop a global standard for mass transfer measurements in ab-/desorption. In this AiF-funded project "Standardisation of mass transfer measurements in ab-/desorption", the laboratories of fluid separations of TU Dortmund University and Ruhr-Universität Bochum supported by more than ten industrial enterprises will develop this standard. The project involves manufacturers, developers and users of packings to achieve a broad acceptance of this standard. The laboratory of fluid separations will mainly be involved in developing a method to estimate mass transfer parameters from experimental results and modeling of mass transfer in ab-/desorption. Further information can be found here. Project results are summarized here.

Within the EuroBioRef project (EUROpean multilevel integrated BIOREFinery design for sustainable biomass processing) 28 partner (chemical and biochemical industries as well as academics and researchers) from 14 different European countries work on the development and implementation of bio-refinery processes, with the focus not only on the production of biofuels but also on the production of higher value chemicals.

Within the EU-project „F3-Factory“ (F3 means „Flexible, Fast and Future Factory“) 25 partners from all over Europe want to develop a modular based, continuously operated factory, to standardise associated processes and interfaces as well as to demonstrate the applicability of the F3 Factory for concrete products. For the fist time, leading European companies are working together – beyond all boundaries of competition – on new technologies and concepts for production cooperating with research institutions and universities.

The sub-project B3 is a part of the DFG funded project SFB 63. It deals with the energy-efficient separation of hydroformylation reaction mixture, which consists of high-chained aldehydes, olefins and various side products. New hybrid processes are developed in cooperation with the laboratory of thermodynamics, in order to purify the wide and narrow boiling mixture into highly pure products. The unit operations considered are organophilic nanofiltration, distillation and melt crystallization.

The collaboration between three university partners (laboratory of fluid separations and laboratory of thermodynamics at TU Dortmund University and chair of technical chemistry II at University of Duisburg-Essen) and one industsrial partner (CUT Membrane Technology GmbH & Co. KG) within the Chek.NRW project aims to develop tailor-made polymer membranes for challenging separations in the pharmaceutical industry.

Aim of the project is the development of new bio based surfactant systems. In the frame of the project it is envisaged to couple vegetable based lipids with proteins and carbohydrates to obtain innovative new polymeric “biosurfactants”. The utilization of sustainable chemistry, enzyme catalysis and fermentation combined with modern downstream processing technology should enable a fast transfer from project ideas into product samples and process descriptions.

The research project “Continuous Annular Electro-Chromatography (CAEC)” which is co-financed by the European Commission in the 7th Framework Programme is coordinated by the laboratory of fluid separations. Capillary electrochromatography combines the high separation efficiency of capillary electrophoresis with high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). It provides a powerful tool for the separation of a wide range of both neutral and charged components and extends the range of application towards a small-scale production of extremely high-value-added products like pharmaceuticals for clinical trials. Further information can be found here.

The goal of this project is to investigate the applicability of ionic liquids for downstream processing in white biotechnology. Ionic liquids are organic salts, consisting completely out of ions and remain liquid around room temperature. Their negligible vapour pressure, and unique solvation properties make them ideal for separation processes.

24 industrial and academic partners from 12 European countries have formed a consortium which will work together for four years to optimise down-stream processing in pharmaceutical industry. The overall goals are to cut process development time by half and to reduce cost of goods significantly.

PRISM is a Marie Curie Research Training Network (13 Partners from 8 countries) dedicated to the development of a fully integrated model-based technology for process systems engineering, operator training, advanced process control, dynamic on-line optimisation, process synthesis and monitoring.

The EU-project ECOPHOS (13 Partners from 8 countries) focuses on new technologies for the production of phosphorous salts, phosphoric and phosphorous acids and phosphates in a cost efficient and ecologically sustainable way, on utilisation and processing of industrial solid waste from the phosphoric acid production and on creation of a new generation of phosphoric fertilizers.

Im Rahmen des Kooperationsprojekt soll eine rechnergestützte und experimentell validierte Auslegungs- und Optimierungsmethode entwicklet werden, die es erlaubt, Stickstoff aus vergorenen Flüssigkeiten zu eliminieren. Besonderes Augenmerk soll dabei der Dekarbonisierung (CO2-Entfernung) gewidmet werden, die für die Umsetzung des Vorhabens von zentraler Bedeutung ist. Durch diese Betrachtung soll ein allgemein gültiges Modell zur Desorption von Ammoniak (NH3) und Kohlendioxid (CO2) aus vergorenen Flüssigkeiten geschaffen werden.

Bio-EtOH is a research project in the Sixth Framework Programme FP6 of the EU with eight different partners from 4 European countries. The objective of this project is the development of a sophisticated new process for bio-fuel ethanol production with significant reduced energy consumption and savings in construction and operation costs of ethanol dehydration by using Membrane Technologies.

14 industrial and academic partners from 8 European countries are working together on the problem of the integration of the two key steps common to conversion processes – reaction and separation – to develop new processes and new process configurations that will make a step change to conventional processes with respect to product yield and product quality, energy consumption, waste generation, environmental impact and capital investment.

Marie Curie Training Site REACTIVE SEPARATIONS, maintained by the IRT Research Group and coordinated at the Chair of Fluid Separation Processes, was organizing doctoral studies in from 2002 to 2006. Post-graduate students pursuing their doctoral studies in any European Member or Associate State (apart from Germany) were invited to send their applications. The project was finished on November 30, 2006. In its frame 13 research fellowships were financed ammounting jointly to 96 personmonths.

Ein Tropfen bildet die kleinste Einheit vieler Flüssig-flüssig-Extraktionsprozesse. Für ein umfassendes Verständnis des Gesamtprozesses ist die Berücksichtigung der Phänomene an der Phasengrenzfläche des einzelnen Tropfens unerlässlich. In dieser Arbeit wird auf Basis der kommerziellen Software CFX 4 (ANSYS Inc.) ein Modell entwickelt, mit dem ein kugelförmiger Tropfen simuliert werden kann, der von einer kontinuierlichen flüssigen Phase umströmt wird.

Ziel des Projektes ist die Modellierung sowie die modellgestützte Optimierung und Prozessführung von dynamischen katalytischen Rektifikationsprozessen mit Folge- und Parallelreaktionen. Die bisher im Rahmen der Forschergruppe durchgeführten Arbeiten haben gezeigt, dass rigorose mathematische Modellansätze in der Lage sind, katalytische Rektifikationsprozesse wie die Methylacetatsynthese mit hoher Genauigkeit zu beschreiben.

Die Unsicherheiten von Betriebsgrößen in Kraftwerken lassen sich durch die Anwendung der Fuzzy-Logik, die die Zusammensetzung der Brennstoffe durch so genannte Zugehörigkeitsfunktionen anzunähern erlaubt, in einer quantifizierbaren Form erfassen und ihre Einflüsse beschreiben. Das entwickelte Modell bewertet die Auswirkungen von unterschiedlichen Brennstoffen auf die Qualität der Reststoffe.

Das Ziel dieses Projektes war die Entwicklung eines Software-Prototyps für Prozesssimulation, Design, Steuerung und Optimierung von reaktiven Absorptionsprozessen. Hierzu wurden Methoden zur Modellierung, Simulation und Optimierung entwickelt, deren Anwendung zu einer Reduktion von Kosten, Abgase und Energieverbrauch führen.

In the project, new software tools have been developed to allow for a systematic approach in the development of internals. The first is a decision supporting system for the internals pre-selection. The second is a CFD tool for the simulation of fluid flow in/on internals. The third is a rate-based process simulator for the design of reactive separations. Besides, a methodology to develop optimal, process-related internals has been proposed and tested with several industrial cases.

Entwicklung eines neuen Hohlfaser-Membranmoduls zur Trennung wässrig-organischer Gemische mittels Dampfpermeation bzw. Pervaporation und Beurteilung dessen Einsatzmöglichkeiten in der chemischen Verfahrenstechnik.

In der Prozessentwicklung ist es häufig noch üblich, die verfahrenstechnische Auslegung unabhängig von der Konzeption der Prozessregelung und Prozessführung durchzuführen. Ziel dieses Forschungsvorhabens war es, einen reaktiven Trennprozess gleichzeitig detailliert zu modellieren und auf den entwickelten Modellen basierend ein Regelungskonzept zu entwerfen. Sowohl das Modell als auch die Regelung sollten an einer Technikumsanlage verifiziert werden.

Katalytische Packungen erweitern die Möglichkeiten zum Einsatz der Reaktivdestillation, es besteht jedoch ein Defizit in der Kenntnis der hydrodynamischen Vorgänge und dem Scale-up solcher Prozesse. Das Projekt hat durch umfangreiche Versuche vom Labor bis zum Technikumsmaßstab, die in enger Kooperation mit industriellen Partnern durchgeführt wurden, zu einer deutlichen Verbesserung der Datenlage und damit zu einer sicheren Prozessauslegung geführt.

The general focus of the EU-project “INnovaTive Enzymes and polyionic-liquids based membRAnes as post combustion CO2 Capture key Technology” (INTERACT) is to open new pathways for development of high-potential novel processes for post combustion CO2 capture based on new materials, using poly(ionic liquid)s or enzymes, integrated into gas separation technologies such as gas separation membranes, absorption in columns and absorption using membrane contactors. Several innovative absorbents and adsorbents - the main bottleneck of the conventional processes - will be in depth analysed for applications in different unit process operations. Further information can be found here.

The EU-project “Alternative Energy Forms for Green Chemistry” (ALTEREGO) focuses on alternative energy technologies for intensified chemical processes. The goal is the development of highly efficient chemical syntheses using three alternative energy forms, namely ultrasound, microwave and non-thermal plasma. The consortium consists of four academic partners (TU Delft, TU Dortmund, KU Leuven and University of York) which are supported by several industrial partners from different European countries. Further information can be found here.

This project between AkzoNobel Industrial Chemicals B.V. and TU Dortmund University focusses on the development of a computer-aided phenomena-based tool for process synthesis. The goal is the generation of novel intensified process solutions which are beneficial regarding operating costs and energy consumption. To achieve this, flowsheet variants are generated on the more fundamental level of phenomena instead of the level of unit operations. These include mass, energy and impulse transfer as well as thermodynamics and reactions. This enlarges the search space and helps to identify new combinations of existing equipment or even the invention of new equipment.

The scope of the ISPT project is to evaluate the potential for process intensification in rotating equipment such as spinning disc reactors or rotating packed beds (RPBs). Since these technologies are still not well understood a systematic characterization in terms of hydrodynamics and mass transfer is first required. Different spinning disc reactors and RPB set-ups are experimentally investigated in order to provide the required data base to develop short-cut models which will support the identification of potential fields of applications. Further information can be found here

The focus of the project ”Energy efficient Separation in the chemical and pharmaceutical Industry using MEMbrane processes” (ESIMEM), which is supported by the federal ministry for economic affairs and energy (BMWi), is the implementation of the organic solvent nanofiltration (OSN) in the “standard toolbox” of unit operations considered for process design. Within the project a systematic evaluation methodology will be developed in order to reliably determine and quantify the separation characteristics of a membrane. Moreover, tools for conceptual process design, detailed process modeling and cost estimation will be developed. By using these tools during the design of a separation task, OSN can be considered early on in the design process and can be compared with other separation techniques in terms of competitiveness.

The aim of the project ImPaCCt is to evaluate and quantify the potential of the HiGEE technology by developing the fundamental know-how and understanding of centrifugal contactors, leading to proper scaling rules for these contactors (which are currently not available), and by performing experimental industrial case studies. The project is in cooperation with three leading chemical companies of Europe.

Renewable resources show a great potential for the application in future processes. Promising and cheap feedstocks for the production of biodiesel are low-quality oils such as waste cooking oils. The drawback of these low-quality oils is the high amount of free fatty acids which lead to undesired side reactions in the transesterification of biodiesel. Therefore, a pre-treatment is needed to minimize the amount of free fatty acids in the waste cooking oil. A possible technology is reactive distillation (RD) but its operating window is restricted by reaction and separation. To enable the use of new feedstocks and enlarge the operating window of RD an integrated process incorporating organic solvent nanofiltration (OSN) and RD is proposed. OSN might allow an energy efficient separation of FFA and triglycerides.

A systematic investigation of this integrated process is performed. OSN and RD experiments are performed to provide necessary data for modelling. Within process analysis, feasible operating windows for different process configurations are identified considering conversion of waste cooking oil and product purities as well as energy efficiency.


Contact Person : Kathrin Werth, Mirko Skiborowski

Mitigation of CO2 emissions is generally regarded as vital requirement to prevent global climate change. The application of mature CO2 capture technologies is currently very limited. Part of the cause for this lack of investment is the high capital and specifically the high operational costs of existing CO2 capture, purification and compression technologies. The negligible economical value of CO2 as a compound due to currently very limited industrial demand further contributes to this lack of investment. In order to decrease the costs associated with CO2 capture processes, different measures of process intensification are applied and investigated in this project. As a first measure intensified contacting technologies specifically membrane contactors and rotating packed beds are investigated to achieve process intensification on a technology level. These technologies are expected to offer substantially more compact and flexible processes due to significantly enlarged and stabilized volume-specific interfacial area, potentially resulting in capital cost savings. In order to enable more energy-efficient CO2 separation, the application of novel absorbent materials is introduced as a second measure for realizing process intensification, providing the potential of significant savings in operating costs. A very promising candidate of novel absorbent material is the enzyme carbonic anhydrase, which increases the absorption rate of bicarbonate forming solvents drastically. This facilitates the use of kinetically limited but thermodynamically favourable absorbents that provide the potential for improvements in energy-efficiency. Synergies from combining both approaches of process intensification are expected to further improve process performance and are therefore investigated as well in order to identify the most energy-efficient CO2 capture processes. As a major outcome of this project a portfolio of innovative, intensified and efficient processes is created based on the different measures of process intensification investigated experimentally and theoretically. This portfolio is a contribution to future development of energy-efficient and intensified CO2 capture processes.


Contact Person :  Mathias Leimbrink, Mirko Skiborowski

The aim of this project is the development of a method for phenomena-based process synthesis, which automatically generates flowsheet variants by means of superstructure optimization. By composing processes of phenomena building blocks (PBB) instead of predefined unit operations, the creativity during process synthesis is maximized and process intensification principles such as integrated or hybrid separation processes can be considered even beyond already existing equipment. The optimization-based method generates promising phenomena-based flowsheet variants which can further be interpreted and translated into equipment by using databases or proposing new equipment that implements the phenomena-based design. A scheme of the generic superstructure, which is used for automatically generating flowsheet variants.


Contact Person: Hanns Kuhlmann, Mirko Skiborowski

State of the art

 A continuously operated miniplant for the hydroformylation of 1-dodecene was designed, built and tested. To realize an efficient catalyst recycling, a solvent-system with a highly temperature dependent miscibility gap is used. The miniplant contains a continuously stirred tank reactor (CSTR) where the homogeneous catalyzed reaction takes place and a liquid/liquid phase separator in which the product-phase and the catalyst-phase are separated from each other. After phase-separation the catalyst is fed back into the reactor and the product is taken out of the process. It was possible to realize a steady state operation of this miniplant for 200 h with a yield of 63 % of the main product.

Research goals

During the following research the catalyzed recycling has to be improved further. Therefore, the influence of an organic solvent nanofiltration membrane on the catalyst behavior will be investigated, to expand the miniplant with a nanofiltration-unit and increase the effectiveness of the process. Furthermore the non-polar solvent has to be separated from the product with a distillation unit and reused in the reaction-step. Also an optimal designed reactor (project B1) has to be tested in the miniplant and compared to the CSTR, in order increase the yield. Further scientific investigations on hydroformylation and hydroesterification reactions in the miniplant lead to the processing of renewable materials.


Contact Person: Jens Dreimann, Mirko Skiborowski