Intensified Reaction & Separation Systems

The IRS Chair is internationally recognized as one of the world leaders in the field of Process Intensification, both due to its research activities, as well as several trend-setting publications, including the world’s first book in the field and first paper on fundamentals of Process Intensification.

Advancing novel, sustainable solutions by bridging process technology research to other scientific disciplines presents the core of our vision. Our mission is to provide education and conduct research towards intensified processes and tailored products, within the framework of sustainability.

The main objective of the programme is development of fundamentally new concepts of  “perfect” chemical reactors and separation systems. The program addresses both the middle-term sustainability issues of chemical and biochemical industries, as well as the long-term issues related to grand societal challenges, energy, environment and health in particular.

The programme conducts fundamental and applied multidisciplinary research focusing on local control of activation and transport processes. More specifically, in our research we develop new methods and related equipment to influence and control molecular interactions (orientation, forces and energies) in systems, in which such interaction play crucial role, including reactions, distillation and crystallization. The research involves a combination of experimental work and modeling studies and spans all relevant length scales, from molecule to process plants.

The current Chair strategy is based on a well-balanced blend of the long-term, high risk-high reward fundamental research and a mid-term application-oriented research that will enable the realization of the earlier mentioned objectives of the program. To this end, the program conducts both fundamental projects (mostly  based on personal grants such as ERC Advanced Investigator Grant or NWO grants) as well as applied research in collaboration with external parties (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, various public-private partnerships, such as Dutch Institute for Sustainable Process Technology and EU Framework Programs consortia). The vast majority of the projects carried out within the IRS program focuses on new equipment development, which presents a strong link with the 3me Faculty.

Because of the multidisciplinary nature of our strategic research, we collaborate closely with other disciplines, in particular physical chemistry, catalysis, physics, material sciences and electrical engineering both in the Netherlands and abroad.

The research portfolio of the IRS Chair includes two strongly interacting programs:

  • Alternative energy forms for intensification of reaction and separation systems
  • Process Intensification in crystalline product technology

Intensification and improved molecular control of chemical reactions and separations by means of alternative energy forms (such as microwaves, electric fields, light or acoustic fields) presents an important part of the current program. Within the ERC Advanced Investigator Grant of Prof. Stankiewicz two postdocs and two PhDs conduct research on “perfect chemical reactors” in which molecular orientation and activation is locally controlled by means of electric of electromagnetic (laser, microwave, light) fields.  In the research project granted to us by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, waste biomass is converted to synthesis gas in an innovative non-thermal plasma reactor. The European ALTEREGO (“Alternative Energy Forms for Green Chemistry”) project addresses both reactions and reactive separations (distillation, crystallization) using microwaves, plasma and acoustic fields.

Application of the fundamental concepts of process intensification for improved control of the crystallization processes has become an important element of our research activities. Control over crystal nucleation through molecular association processes, templates and external energies is studied. Controlled crystallization under the influence of external fields such as plasma, electric fields, laser light and ultrasound is also investigated. The European research project “OPTICO” is aimed at the intensification of crystallization processes for pharmaceutical products by novel task based design strategies.

An apart example of application of process intensification for product control, is the advanced structuring of artificial meat material using the high-shear devices. 

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Running Projects:

Coarse-grained modelling of fluidized beds of non-spherical particles
Continuous membrane-assisted airlift crystallizer
Continuous Seeded Cooling and membrane-assisted airlift Crystallization: Modelling and Experiments
Coupled CFD-DEM simulations and experiments on 3D fluidized beds containing elongated particles: effects of particle size aspect ratio
Coupled CFD-DEM simulations and experiments on quasi-2D fluidized beds containing elongated particles: effects of wall proximity and particle orientation
Crystallization & Encapsulation in multicomponent mixtures (COMPLETED)
Crystallization in composite hydrogels
Development of task-based crystallizer for pharmaceutical applications
Direct numerical simulations of fluid-solid interactions with non-spherical particles
Improving boundary conditions for Lattice Boltzmann simulations of fluid-induced forces on non-spherical particles at high Reynolds numbers
Influence of mixing on the induction time measurements in the microfluidics
Integrated design of travelling microwave reactor
Light-Generating Photocatalysts and Intensified Reactors
Microwave assisted methane reforming reactions
Nucleation control using alternative energies like ultrasounds and microwaves during crystallization process
Numerical and experimental study on oscillatory baffled reactor
Ostwald Ripening in emulsions
Parametric study of gas phase plasma-assisted reactions
Photocatalytic degradation of toluene under controlled periodic illumination
Toluene degradation in a LED‐based photocatalytic reactor