Process intensification aims at the development of chemical process technology which allows chemical processing with high materials and energy efficiency. The main focus is on the transition from batch to continuous flow systems and on the use of external energy forms (e.g. ultrasound, light, microwave, plasma) to additionally actuate chemical reactors and/or separators. While in the frame of SIM2 the developed technologies are used in particular for recycling or new materials synthesis from waste, they have a much wider applicability.

Flagship topics:
Alternative energy forms (magnetic, microwave, ultrasound) for process intensification and enhanced metal recovery
Leaching of metals is accelerated by microwave irradiation or ultrasound, but it is also possible to get more selective leaching by these methods. Separation of paramagnetic from diamagnetic metal ions by strong magnetic fields is an innovative new approach to the separation of mixtures of metal ions.

From batch to continuous processes
With the transition of batch to continuous, the size of reactors can be deceased and transport processes (mass and heat transfer, mixing) can occur much more effectively. This allows miniaturization of the reactors without losing on productivity, thus leading to reduced inventory, higher yields and reduced losses of material and energy. Continuous flow systems for solvent extraction allow for highly effective metal separation and purification. Performing crystallization in flow devices enables quicker nucleation and better control over crystal and particle properties.

The Team:

Prof. Tom Van Gerven has a background in chemical engineering and is a specialist in process intensification using localised energy and alternative energy forms (ultrasound, light, microwaves etc.). Prof. Van Gerven’s role in RARE³ is the application of process intensification techniques to the leaching of low grade ores and industrial process residues and to the solvent extraction. This includes ultrasound- and microwave-assisted leaching, light-assisted separations and the use of microflow reactors for solvent extraction.

Contact Prof. Tom Van Gerven

Prof. Georgios Stefanidis is an associate professor at the Faculty of Engineering Science and head of the Subdivision Alternative Energies. His research topics include process intensification, chemical reactor engineering and alternative energy forms and transfer mechanisms (microwaves, plasma).

Prof. Simon Kuhn is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Engineering Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Process Engineering for Sustainable Systems
Department of Chemical Engineering. His research interests include Multiphase flows, microfluidics, scale-up, transport processes, Experimental fluid mechanics: particle image velocimetry (PIV), laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) and Computational fluid dynamics: turbulence modeling, large-eddy simulations, multiphase flow simulations (VOF).

Prof. Jan Fransaer is a full professor of chemistry (Department of Materials Engineering). His research group has a tradition in experimental & computational electrochemistry. More than 100 peer reviewed publications and 11 patents in this field. He was involved in 7 EU projects (2 as coordinator) on electrodeposition. The group made significant contributions to the practical and theoretical understanding of the electrodeposition of particles together with metals, and was one of the first to study this process using non-aqueous electrolytes.