Chemical process development and flow chemistry

In the research area of chemical process development, the synthesis and processing of energetic materials and fine chemicals are performed up to pilot scale. Emphasis is placed on continuous microprocessing and supercritical process technologies.

Continuous processing and micro process engineering

Modern continuous processes and methods enable scalable, energy- and resource-efficient processing solutions.

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
Micro-structured reactor for kg-scale production

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


Microfluidic emulsification

Potentially hazardous processes

© Fraunhofer ICT
Remote controlled production of hazardous substances

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 »ShaPID«

Shaping the Future of Green Chemistry by Process Intensification and Digitalization

In the lead project ‘’ShaPID”, nine Fraunhofer institutes are pooling their expertise for conducting application-oriented initial developments aimed at strengthening and establishing green chemical processes. The project aims to demonstrate that sustainable, green chemistry can be achieved through practical technological innovations in process intensification and digitalization.

In the "Efficient Building Blocks" reference process, Fraunhofer ICT is working with partner institutes to develop modular continuous processes for the point-of-use and on-demand generation of highly reactive diazo reagents for follow-up processes. This enables the realization of atom-efficient one-step syntheses and thus significant shortening of synthesis routes and drastic reduction of waste load, for example in the field of fine and specialty chemicals.


Thermal Membrane Separation Technology

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Flat membrane modules at lab- and technical scale

Increasing demands on energy and raw material efficiency and the limited availability of important raw materials and key components are currently leading to increased optimization of production procedures in the processing of liquid process media, aiming to reduce the consumption of raw materials and energy.

Due to specific advantages like the lower temperature level and overall energy consumption, the higher selectivity and gentle processing conditions as well as the suitability for hazardous, toxic or chemically aggressive substances and for difficult separation problems (e. g. azeotropic mixtures), thermal membrane separation processes are becoming increasingly important in this area. As part of our developments in the field of micro process technology and flow chemistry, methods and materials for the use of thermal membrane separation processes such as membrane distillation or pervaporation are designed and tested, e. g. for applications like

  • processing and recycling of aggressive or difficult to separate process media (azeotropes, acids, solvents, etc.)
  • performance increase due to inline separation of product / interfering by-products
  • simplified downstream processing due to higher separation selectivity
  • well-controlled and gentle product separation by membrane crystallization

High-pressure applications

Überkritische Pilotanlage
© Fraunhofer ICT
Überkritische Pilotanlage

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
© Fraunhofer ICT
Microwave unit to debond adhesive samples