Core competence "chemical processes"

Our expertise in chemical processes comprises the ability to design and implement innovative, resource-saving chemical and technical processes from the laboratory through to the technical scale.

We cover the entire process chain from raw material processing, chemical reaction control, purification and separation technologies through to subsequent manufacturing processes.

Sustainable, defossilized and circular production processes are the focus of our research and development work.

Areas of expertise

Non-fossil chemistry

For many years we have been using non-fossil raw materials, for example renewable raw materials and CO2, in our internally-developed processes. In this way, we support industrial customers in adapting these new raw material sources in production. Our processes include the feed materials lignocellulose (wood), fats and oils, carbohydrates and other biomass materials which do not compete with food production. There is an increasing demand for processes to recover originally fossil-based products, such as polymers and end-of-life plastics, in a high degree of purity that allows them to be returned to their original application. For these extractive processes, both the solvent selection and the process chain are the key to an economical and sustainable implementation.


In the field of electrochemistry we work on the selective synthesis of chemicals, the design of corresponding electrochemical cells and the related catalyst materials. In the context of downstream processing, we develop methods for isolating electrochemically generated platform chemicals. One example is the highly integrated electrochemical conversion of lignins to drop-in chemicals and intermediates for material applications. Continuous reactor concepts can be realized in separate electrode compartments producing both oxidized and reduced synthesis building blocks.

Chemistry with hazard potential

Our comprehensive know-how in the field of explosive technology means that we have advanced expertise in the safetyrelated design and operation of hazardous (explosive or toxic) processes. We are developing processes that enable the safe production and conversion of highly reactive synthetic building blocks, which can be used with high atom efficiency to produce downstream products. In the development of highpressure processes we also benefit from our long-standing experience in the processing of supercritical fluids. Continuous and microprocess engineering Another focus of our work is continuous process control in microreactors. We develop microprocessing equipment and processes in which residence time, mass and heat transport can be controlled very precisely, allowing target parameters such as selectivity and yield to be significantly improved.

On-line process analytics

Using cutting-edge spectroscopic and calorimetric process analysis techniques, some of which were developed in-house, kinetic, mechanistic and safety data are measured and applied in process design, including model-based design. Online analytics also plays an important role in process monitoring, as it provides timely information on whether changes in process control or maintenance work are required, for example due to a change in the composition of the product flow. Process and operational safety of chemical plants Many of the institute‘s own developments provide technical access to new processing windows. Our spatially and temporally resolved process diagnostics enable reliable process control. Through the use of extensive characterization methods combined with continuous process monitoring, high operational and process reliability can be achieved. Alongside experimental studies, we identify elemental product compositions, determine structures and carry out emission, aging and stability analyses on metastable compounds to enable their safe handling.

Facilities and equipment

  • Various synthesis techniques for chemical and mechanical processing
  • Pilot plant for synthesis upscaling into the 50 kg or 50 l range
  • Safety boxes for the remote control of reactions in hazardous processes
  • Flow chemistry test stands and synthesis units
  • Facilities for the parallel screening of synthetic approaches (including under high pressure)
  • Numerous reaction calorimeters (batch and continuous)
  • Cutting-edge process spectrometers for single or multidimensional inline, online or at-line process monitoring (UV/vis, NIR, IR, Raman)
  • Continuous and discontinuous high-pressure plants for hydrothermolysis, oxidation, hydrogenation, and reactions in subcritical and supercritical water
  • High-pressure extraction units for extraction in supercritical carbon dioxide
  • Pilot plants for crystallization from solutions via supercritical fluids
  • Systems to determine solubility and phase equilibria at high pressures
  • Various distillation units for the thermal separation of highboiling/ sensitive material mixtures (down-flow evaporator, high-temperature vacuum rectification)
  • Units for liquid/liquid and solid/liquid extraction Mobile equipment for reverse osmosis, nano- and ultra-filtration
  • Equipment for solution and melt polymerization
  • Coating processes
  • Spray and melt crystallization processes
  • Comminution technology
  • Particle size and crystal structure analyses
  • Extensively equipped chemical, spectroscopic, thermal and mechanical analysis laboratories
  • Units for surface analysis, volumetric and gravimetric sorption measurements
  • Computer tomography
  • Computer-aided design of processes (up to multi-ton scale)

Chemical processes for a sustainable future


Chemical processes are essential for a wide range of industrial value chains, and ensure new product developments and innovations. However, in the light of global challenges in the field of climate protection, energy and resource efficiency, chemical processes must increasingly become independent of fossil raw materials and fuels, and be integrated into concepts for circular economies and greenhouse-gas-neutral material and energy conversion.

Besides increasing product quality, safety and cost-effectiveness, our central goals in the development, design and optimization of chemical processes therefore also include the sustainability of the products and their manufacturing processes. At Fraunhofer ICT, we meet these requirements by developing modern synthesis and process technologies that follow the principles of green chemistry, including energy-efficient and resource-saving process management, minimized waste streams, the recycling of material flows and the use of renewable raw material sources from the outset.

In our development work, we often bring about a paradigm shift from discontinuous to continuous processing techniques. For example, continuous processing involving micro-structured equipment plays a key role in process design and intensification. It allows safe process control in new processing windows, e.g. at higher temperatures, pressures and concentrations, as well as shorter reaction times. These process parameters are difficult or impossible to achieve in classical processes, and can consequently only be optimized technically and economically within continuous processes. We also systematically transfer continuous process control to other process steps and new fields of application. These include in particular the intensification of downstream processing for extractive purification under different pressure regimes, for the size-controlled production of nanoparticles and microcapsules, the development of environmentally-friendly catalytic processes and electrochemical syntheses, and the intensification of multiphase reaction processes.

We are making significant progress in the development and adaptation of fast spectroscopic and calorimetric process analyses, which can be used to monitor the dynamics of chemical processes with a high temporal and spatial resolution. Recent examples include reaction calorimetric tracking of continuous processes along the flow direction or fast infrared spectroscopic tracking of syntheses in IR-absorbing solvents using quantum cascade lasers. The techniques often yield kinetic, mechanistic and safety-related data for optimized process design.

The rapid availability of comprehensive process analytical data not only enables process development times to be significantly shortened, but also allows the increasing application of these data in the digitalization of chemical reaction processes. All process developments are evaluated in economic terms – in particular downstream processes to purify the end products. Life-cycle analyses (LCAs) are carried out, which take account of both cost effectiveness and environmental and health issues.


Dusan Boskovic

Contact Press / Media

Dr. rer. nat. Dusan Boskovic

Spokesman of the core competence

Fraunhofer-Institut für Chemische Technologie ICT
Joseph-von-Fraunhofer-Straße 7
76327 Pfinztal

Phone +49 721 4640-759

Fax +49 721 4640-111

Ronny Hanich-Spahn

Contact Press / Media

Dr. rer. nat. Ronny Hanich-Spahn

Spokesman of the core competence

Fraunhofer-Institut für Chemische Technologie ICT
Joseph-von-Fraunhofer-Straße 7
76327 Pfinztal

Phone +49 721 4640-586