Reactor optimization by membrane enhanced operation
ROMEO is a European Research and Innovation Project funded by the European Commission. It is developing a new reactor concept using homogeneous catalysis and membrane technology to carry out chemical synthesis and downstream processing in a single step. Process intensification for catalytic-driven and eco-friendly reaction systems will be brought to a new level thanks to this two-in-one reactor. ROMEO’s reactor will improve efficiency and long-term sustainability for the process industry that is highly dependent on energy, raw materials and water resources.
Processes for bulk chemicals and bio-energy applications have been chosen to demonstrate the efficiency of ROMEO’s technology in a near industrial environment. A demo plant for hydroformylation will be built. This facility will convert olefins and syngas to aldehydes. These molecules are used as precursors for plasticizer alcohols. A demo plant for water-gas shift reaction will be built. This demo plant will use CO or CO-containing syngas derived from biomass. If successful, the ROMEO researchers will have found a way of generating hydrogen from biogenic waste materials, for example wood waste
ROMEO’s reactor includes bundles of hollow-fiber tubes and a homogenous catalyst being fixed onto a membrane. Chemical synthesis and processing are carried out in a single step thanks to the membrane. In this "two-in-one" reactor, the product is continuously removed from the reaction mixture as soon as it is formed. This enhances the efficiency of the reactor.
ROMEO intends to get detailed understanding of the processes involved in its new reactor, from nanoscale (catalyst phase, membrane, transport across and inside the membrane) to macro-scale (e.g. heat and
mass flow, industrial process design). The new know-how will be used to develop a flexible reactor design method: a detailed understanding of the different components will allow the tool-box to be flexible and tailored for a wide range of applications.
The ROMEO project has received funding from the European Commission's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement n°680395.