The constitution of a sustainable energy system requires significant efficiency improvements on the part of private and industrial consumers. From the chemical industry substantial efficiency potentials arise regarding reactor technology, selectivity of reactions, heat management, process integration, and control. Especially multi-phase reactions are applied in numerous important processes. Because of many arbitrary parameters the knowledge level is still too low for the energy efficiency to be improved by systematic process optimization. The Alliance shall change this situation fundamentally by focussing the related R&D activities.
The objectives of the Alliance are the development of methods and tools for an improved process simulation and comprehension, the optimization of the process control, and the construction of the needed reactors, as well as their demonstration in relevant industrial processes. As an example, the synthesis of aniline from nitrobenzene, and that of hydroperoxo-isobutane have been chosen. The reactors shall be micro-structured or filled with ceramic foams or monoliths.
Systems analyses, the Research topic 1 co-ordinated by ITAS, plays a central role. The analyses also comprise the technically oriented simulations (KIT IMVT, RUB) with which the system integration of the chemical processes including heat management and product upgrade shall be investigated, i.e., the work of the other research topics are put together in a broader context. Vice versa, the simulation results shall have a strongly directing function for the entire R&D activities. With that, it is a quasi constructive task aiming at energy efficiency. A selection of energetically promising system configurations will be analyzed more detailed under aspects of environment, costs, and eco-efficiency (ITAS). The objectives of these analyses are to optimize the Alliance concepts and to identify its position in comparison to other technologies, and - based on that - to identify promising application fields and their potential contributions to a sustainable chemistry production.
The work is done over the total project duration. Based on literature search and expert interviews reference systems for the reaction examples will be defined. The reactions will be integrated into complete systems (including product upgrade, heat management, etc.) simulated by Aspen®. By means of the input from the other partners modified systems will be designed and simulated, and their energy efficiency will be evaluated.
The detailed analyses of environmental impacts, of costs, and of eco-efficiency is largely done with material flow and life cycle based methods (environmental Life Cycle Assessment - LCA, Life Cycle Costing - LCC). In order to optimize the systems, weak point analyses will be done (LCA, LCC). The comparison of the technology will be attained by assessing the eco-efficiency. To assess the contribution to sustainable chemical production, beside the system specific results, market potentials will be used.
An essential feature is the simulation of comprehensive systems. With that, specific data for the sustainability assessment are available not only for the core process "synthesis" but also for preceding, subsequent and side processes. The system analytical work will be up-dated in the course of the project according to the state of progress of the technical work. The results of the up-dated LCA will be fed back to the development process so as to keep the work sustainability oriented.