Cost analyses of chemical micro processing for highly intensified and high-value raw material processes: real business and virtual cases

Volker Hessel, Ulrich Krtschil, Patrick Löb, Holger Löwe, Dana Kralisch, Guenter Kreisel, Michael Küpper, Rainer Schenk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


As a result of its rapid development within the last years an increasing commercial interest on micro process engineering is given. Process intensification effects of this novel technology were clearly demonstrated. In this context, a generic cost view needs to be developed. As a first investigation, two generic cost analyses investigate here the profitability for two edge cases. One refers to dominance by raw materials, the other by the operator's salary. Both shares dominate the operational costs of a micro-chemical process, but in a varying extent. The write-downs of the investment costs, mainly consistent of the micro-reaction plant itself and the plant engineering, are of minor relevance. The first case study considered here focused on the synthesis of a high-value fine-chemical intermediate where raw-material costs outpaced even the high operator costs. The process under investigation is an economically conducted fine chemical process of the customized chemical producer AzurChem GmbH, the formation of the 4-cyanophenylboronic acid, using the benefits of micro process technology supplied by IMM GmbH [5] among others. This process was chosen since it is representative for several of this company's manufacturing processes of fine and specialty chemicals. The other study refers to a highly intensified process, the aqueous Kolbe-Schmitt synthesis with reaction times being reduced by three orders of magnitude, from some hours to some tens of seconds [24]. Correspondingly, space-time yield and productivity were increased using this so-called high pressure and high temperature (high-p,T) micro processing concept. For a given productivity, the operator costs are notably reduced for the micro-chemical process as compared to a batch process. A detailed view on the different cost portions will be given and demonstrate how the variable and the total costs change. For both case studies, the impact of process intensification (e.g. by scale-out) and parallel operation (e.g. by numbering-up) are pointed out.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2006 AIChE Annual Meeting
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006
Event2006 AIChE Annual Meeting - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: 12 Nov 200617 Nov 2006


Conference2006 AIChE Annual Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA


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