Departmental Seminar by Professor Frans Muller

Professor Frans Muller of the University of Leeds will give this month’s Departmental Seminar. “Once through continuous slurry hydrogenations” is the headline of the research which he will present at DTU Chemical Engineering on 24 October 2014. Everyone is welcome and participation is free of charge.

The presentation will cover the design and operation of the processing equipment; a modular hydrogenation system in which a slurry of catalyst and starting material in solvent is contacted with hydrogen gas in an Alfa Laval ART reactor. The rig successfully operated slurry hydrogenations for up to 6 hours using a palladium on carbon catalyst. The hydrogen uptake is very efficient, reaching up to 1 mol of hydrogen per litre of material passed through the reactor. An unexpected finding was that the mass transfer rate appeared to be independent on the liquid flowrate, and was correlated only to the inlet gas velocity. Several substrates were processed, demonstrating the generality of the slurry hydrogenation method (styrene, 4-chloronitrobenzene and cinnamaldehyde). These case studies indicate that the unoptimised 15 ml slurry reactor equals the volumetric performance of large scale Buss loop reaction systems.

About the topic

Batch manufacture is well established and extremely versatile, but there are clear and well understood limitations to batch processing that result in compromises which render the manufacturing process sub-optimal from an economic and environmental perspective. Continuous processing is not a new concept, having been utilised in industry since the mid-19th century, and is frequently evaluated as strong option in the latter stages of process development towards the finalisation of the manufacture route.

Continuous processes are well established in low cost efficient manufacture of bulk chemicals, however the uptake of process intensification remains low in the High Value Chemical Manufacturing Sector (HVCM) which produces products like agro chemicals, pharmaceuticals and complex home and personal care chemicals. Continuous processing in HVCM is mainly applied to very exothermic reactions in a single liquid phase and operated at intensified levels of mixing and heat transfer.

We have studied continuous slurry hydrogenation. Although successful in the bulk and food industry, this technology is currently not considered in the HVCM Sector. Our premise is that catalytic packed bed reactors struggle to deliver the consistent quality and low variability the HVCM industry requires and in this sector, catalysts typically deactivate at short time scales (hrs), and catalyst optimisation equivalent to that done for bulk chemical processes is not economically feasible. In once through slurry reactors the catalyst is only present in the reactor a limited time, catalyst deactivation processes are therefore much less of a concern and scale up will be more robust. In such systems mixing, heat transfer and mass transfer can be intensified.

Once through continuous slurry hydrogenations
Frans Muller, Richard Bourne, Barry Johnson
University of Leeds, Alfa Laval

About Professor Frans Muller

Frans Muller is Professor of Chemical Process Engineering at the University of Leeds and Member of the Process Research and Development group. He is Deputy Director of the EPSRC funded Centre for Doctoral Training for complex Particulate Products and Processes. He works on the interface between chemical engineering and chemistry and his research interests lie in the dynamics of chemical manufacturing processes and understanding of the interaction between process and equipment. He has spent 17 years in industry as a process engineering scientist working on the design and development of industrial processes & equipment. He has also developed the DynoChem batch processing simulation programme, commercialised to SME software. More than 450 DynoChem licences are being used in 23 countries by 13 of the top pharmaceutical companies.


Fri 24 Oct 14
14:00 - 15:00


DTU Kemiteknik


The lounge
Building 229
DTU Lyngby Campus