PI technologies – benefits and examples

Process intensification provides radically innovative principles in process and equipment design. It significantly benefits process and chain efficiency, capital and operating expenses, quality, wastes, process safety and much more.

The benefits of PI technologies

  • Improved cost competitiveness
  • Improved energy savings
  • Improved material efficiency and environmental performance
  • Improved safety and process control
  • Improved and new product properties/functionalities – often not achievable with conventional technologies

Four PI domains

PI technologies addresses four fundamental domains of chemical processing: spatial, thermodynamic, functional or temporal.

STRUCTURE (spatial domain)

  • Main feature: structured environment
  • Examples: structured catalysts, milli- and microreactors, structured packings, fractal devices
  • Outcomes:
    • Well-defined geometry enabling precise mathematical description
    • Creating maximum specific surface area at minimum energy expenses
    • Creating high mass and heat transfer rates
    • Easy understanding, simple scale-up
    • Easy control

ENERGY (thermodynamic domain)

  • Main feature: alternative forms and transfer mechanisms of energy
  • Examples: microwave-assisted processing, photocatalytic reactors, plasma reactors sonocrystallization, high-gravity (rotating) reactors and separators
  • Outcomes:
    • Activating  targeted molecules
    • Enabling new chemistries
    • Selective, gradient-free and locally controlled energy supply
    • Ultra-high interfacial areas for mass and heat transfer

SYNERGY (functional domain)

  • Main feature: integration of functions/steps
  • Examples: heat exchanger reactors, heat integrated distillation, reactive and hybrid separations
  • Outcomes:
    • Synergistic effects
    • Better heat management
    • Increased product yield
    • Increased overall efficiency
    • More compact equipment

TIME (temporal domain)

  • Main feature: timing of the events, introducing dynamics (pulsing)
  • Examples: milli-second reactors, reverse-flow reactors, oscillatory flow devices
  • Outcomes:
    • Increased yield
    • Influencing hydrodynamic behaviour
    • Increased energy efficiency
    • Improved product quality
    • Minimized unwanted phenomena, such as fouling