Window of opportunity : potential of increase in profitability using modular compact plants and micro-reactor based flow processing

I. Vural - Gursel, V. Hessel, Q. Wang, T. Noel, J. Lang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Recently, much focus has been given to a new type of chemical production plant, with the aim of a much faster time-to-market ("50% idea") and better cash-flow revenue. The main enabling technology is to have the plants pre-manufactured and assembled by a modular construction and to use innovative, smart-scale processing and apparatus technology, in order to achieve a compact overall plant footprint. Focal points in such technology are on the one hand, flow processing, with micro process technology as a cutting-edge cornerstone, and on the other hand, the container framework. Yet, other process-intensified technologies are suitable as well such as milli-flow or upgraded batch technologies. Finally, process robustness and short-time applicability make the decision. In this paper, for the first time, a CAPEX and OPEX analysis of the new plant technology is done, at the example of the Evotrainer production platform. This platform is pre-manufactured in serial and provides all the utilities needed around the reactor and e.g., separator to be tailored and inserted. The unit-operational modularization, with respective definition of interfaces, was developed further to a so-called functional modularization, where different cabinets with pre-defined functions and equipment are proposed. Three virtual microreactor applications were used and stand as model-based scenarios for market applications in bulk chemistry, fine chemistry and pharmacy. It is shown, in many facets, that the Evotrainer infrastructure based plants indeed have a faster payback and higher earnings as compared to conventional technology, particularly when serving high-priced markets such as pharmaceutical applications. Further, the combination with novel chemical routes or novel processing (Novel Process Windows) is advantageous. Micro process technology is one of the key enablers and was taken here, since the dataset of such technology was readily available to the authors due to past research efforts and there is some general belief in the combination to the so-called "Future Factories". Yet, it stands also for any other process intensification technology which can achieve the same performance level and which is able to satisfy the needs of a producing industry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-336
Number of pages95
JournalGreen Processing and Synthesis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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