Chemical process development and flow chemistry

Process control with microreaction technology

Through a precise, continuous process control in microreactors, micromixers and other micro-structured equipment, significant improvements can be achieved compared to conventional synthesis processes, in terms of yield, selectivity, product quality and safety. Micro-structured equipment is characterized in particular by a high surface/volume ratio and channel dimensions in the sub-millimeter range, which enable a significant intensification of heat and mass transfer in the process. Micro process technology therefore opens up new processing windows and synthesis pathways.

Fraunhofer ICT has used chemical micro processing for over 15 years for the following tasks:

 

© Photo Fraunhofer ICT

Potentially hazardous processes

© Photo Fraunhofer ICT

A key research field of Fraunhofer ICT is the development of chemical processes for the safe processing of explosive or otherwise hazardous reaction systems. We can draw on over 50 years of experience in the synthesis of explosives, as well as all the necessary infrastructure and safety equipment.

The advantages of micro process technology are particularly significant in potentially hazardous processes, for example removing strong reaction heat, suppressing by-products and decomposition reactions or processing toxic, explosive or otherwise unstable products and intermediates in small reaction volumes and short reaction times, safely at the point of use. Besides various laboratory processes, Fraunhofer ICT has developed special multipurpose processing units on a pilot plant scale, enabling both the continuous synthesis of explosives and their continuous processing, in relevant production quantities. Typical throughputs are in the range of a few hundred grams of liquid explosive per minute.

Fraunhofer lead project »Electricity as a Resource«

In the Fraunhofer lead project "Electricity as a resource", ten Fraunhofer institutes have joined forces to develop and optimize processes that use low-CO2 electricity to synthesize important basic chemicals. In the project new electrochemical processes are developed, demonstrated on a technical scale, and prepared for integration in the German energy grid.

At Fraunhofer ICT one project involves the development of a demonstrator for the decentralized production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) from oxygen and water. H2O2 is applied in a variety of chemical oxidation reactions as an environmentally friendly, selective and highly active oxidizing agent. The electrochemical synthesis of H2O2 by oxygen  reduction is a cost-effective, safe and clean alternative to conventional large-scale processes, and can be carried out locally on a small-scale at the customer's site. The synthesis is carried out on a kilogram scale, and its forward integration will be demonstrated on a technical level using the example of pulp bleaching and a selective oxidation (oxidative desulfurization of gasoline).

High-pressure applications

© Photo Fraunhofer ICT

The use of supercritical fluids to create and modify finely-dispersed particle systems is a particularly gentle processing option for temperature-sensitive materials. The special physical properties of supercritical fluids, such as low viscosity, lack of surface tension and high density, can be exploited. Fraunhofer ICT uses methods in which the sc-fluid functions as a solvent (RESS) or anti-solvent (PCA). Particles can also be produced in the PGSS process, involving the atomization of a melt saturated with supercritical fluid.  Foaming, or a targeted precipitation of substances in a solid matrix material, are also an application field for supercritical fluids.

We provide testing units from a laboratory scale up to continuously operating pilot plants. Fundamental investigations into the high-pressure phase equilibrium of binary material systems can be carried out on static equipment up to pressures of 100 MPa.

Soluble adhesives

At Fraunhofer ICT adhesives based on polyurethane or epoxides are developed for the construction sector. Using microwave radiation these can be rapidly cured, and activatable materials can be applied to carry out a targeted separation of joined parts.

Two-component adhesives based on PU or EP are developed and characterized for the construction sector. Besides the adhesion of plastics such as PU, PMMA and PC, metal-plastic bonds can also be activated to separate the joining partners. Depending on the application, this process can be carried out with low energy, leaving no residues, and thus enabling subsequent reuse of the materials. With tensile shear strengths of around 25 MPa, these activatable adhesives perform just as well as commercially available products.

Characterization methods

  • Sample production and tensile shear strength according to DIN 53281 and DIN EN 1465
  • Material compatibility (DSC/ TGA, IR, vacuum stability)
  • Dielectric properties in a resonance process
  • Debonding properties with various radiation sources
  • Large-scale microwave array with 16 radiation sources for samples up to 0.5 m²

Our offer

  • Development of adhesives according to customer requirements
  • Debonding concept
  • Evaluation of adhesives
Microwave unit to debond adhesive samples
© Photo Fraunhofer ICT

Microwave unit to debond adhesive samples