maandag 5 september 2016

Why a Brightlands start-up was praised in the Dutch Parliament

The chemical industry is searching for energy-efficient installations that generate less by-products, use less raw materials and require less investments. This has also been discussed in the Dutch Parliament.

Flowid’ SpinPro spinning disc reactor

Parliamentary debate
I quote the Member of the Dutch Parliament, the social-democrat Diederik Samson, who said the following in the parliamentary debate about the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ budget, September 16, 2015:

“I'll take you to the start-up Flowid from Eindhoven, which is literally unleashing a revolution in the process industry. This concerns two fast rotating discs – it sounds so simple and yet it is so beautiful – between which any raw material can react into a new product, especially medicines, but also plastics; actually everything. Nowadays, conventional industry makes those products with fossil resources: crass, in large boilers with a lot of water – boiling, throwing materials together, hoping it goes well; and after distillation maybe you have something. Flowid can do this more precisely, safer, and cleaner. It can turn the whole chemical industry upside down. And those guys are ready for the jump. They want to build a factory that makes those reactors, creating new jobs, from professor to welder. Who's willing to invest now? Maybe the Chinese bring the money to the table; and then we’ve not only lost the knowledge, but also those jobs.”

Flowid installation with SpinPro reactor

The jump has been made
According to Samson the guys from Flowid were “ready for the jump”.

That’s right, because since May 25, 2016 they’re officially located at Brightlands Chemelot Campus. Then, Flowid moved into a one of the halls of the brand new pilot plant complex at the campus, together with Chemelot InSciTe.

InSciTe has placed there installations for developing and producing building blocks for “green” bio-based materials. Scientist and entrepreneurs collaborate to scale up processes and technologies from the laboratory, an important step towards commercialization. The research at InSciTe concerns among other things the efficient production of adipic acid, a raw material for nylon, from levulinic acid, which can be made from biomass.

SpinPro reactor
In the pilot plant hall Flowid has installed the reactor Samson referred to, the first pilot plant of its kind in the world.
It’s the SpinPro reactor, up to 100,000 times smaller than conventional reactors and therefore much safer, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly.

The SpinPro reactor is based on the spinning disc technology that was developed in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Flowid is, as said by Samson, a spin-off from this university and focuses on the further development and marketing of new process technologies.

In a SpinPro reactor various fluids are dosed from above onto horizontal discs. The discs, about the size of a CD, spin fast in a tight housing. This results in forces that blend the fluids almost perfectly while they are pumped along the spinning discs within a few seconds. Under extremely controlled conditions the fluids react very quickly.
Watch the animation video:

Production new style
Samson saw it right: the SpinPro technology distinguishes itself from traditional technologies by a smaller size of the reactor, lower energy and raw materials consumption, less or no formation of by-product, and by lower operating and investment costs.
Exactly what the industry is looking for.

The system is also more secure, so that it can be used to produce at a small scale. Bio-based raw materials can be processed decentrally with the reactor – at the source, to prevent the transport of water in the biomass.
One example is the processing of butyllithium, which is used for rubbers and plastics. In conventional reactors strong reactions must be taken into account, which are easier to control in the SpinPro reactor.

By installing the reactor at the Brightlands campus, scaling up from laboratory to an industrial scale is possible. Here Flowid can increase the production capacity from 8 to 80 m3 per day, more than sufficient for many applications.

InSciTe will use Flowid's SpinPro reactor – a fine example of collaboration within the open innovation ecosystem at the campus.
Here Flowid also collaborates with Chemtrix; both companies replace (large-scale) batch production by (small-scale) flow production. Furthermore, Flowid cooperates with Technoforce (separation technology).

Meanwhile, Flowid sold its first spinning disc reactors in India – and AkzoNobel is interested.

Read also “30 Remarkable developments at Brightlands Chemelot Campus” and “Europe supports 17 innovative projects in my region”.
A transcript (in Dutch) of the parliamentary debate about Flowid (in context) is available online:
More information about Flowid:
This is a repost of my (Dutch) June 27, 2016 post.
Read my May 20, 2013 blog post about the reason why of my English reposts.

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