Biorizon has developed virtual reality model of demonstrator for bio-aromatics


Biorizon has presented a virtual reality model of its Continuous Flow Diels-Alder Skid. Visitors to Biorizon's annual event on 30 November in Antwerp will have the opportunity to undergo the full virtual reality experience.

nBiorizon's Continuous Flow Diels-Alder Skid enables production of bio-aromatics samples (or their precursors) on a multikilogram per day scale (skid throughput of 1-10kg/hr). The realization of this demonstrator is an important milestone within the ‘carbohydrates to aromatics route’ in the three-year BIO-HArT project. (In Dutch, the acronym BIO-HArT stands for 'Biorizon Innovation and Upscaling of Renewable Aromatics Technology').
Custom built for Biorizon by Zeton, based on a unique design by TNO, the demonstrator is highly flexible - feed chemicals, reactor configuration, and process parameters can all be modified, enabling access to a vast array of bio-aromatics (and their precursors). Biorizon can therefore now supply the first kilogram scale samples for application testing. The unit will furthermore be utilized to better understand and optimize processes, leading to the construction of the first pilot plant in 2020 (~40 ton/annum production) and the first commercial production facility in 2025 (>5 kton/annum production).
Aromatics are one of the main raw materials used by the chemical industry: 40% of all chemicals are aromatic by nature. While aromatics are currently isolated from fossil sources, Biorizon, the joint research centre initiated by TNO, VITO, ECN and Green Chemistry Campus, is working to develop technologies to produce aromatics from plant residues – the socalled bio-aromatics.
By scaling up the Diels Alder chemistry from lab- to pilot-scale (throughput: 1-10kg/hr) Biorizon will be able to optimize two different routes to bio-aromatics, and thus prove the industrial feasibility of the processes.
“Coming up with a design ‘in steel’ that could operate the desired processes, and be realized within the timeframe and budget of the project, was a challenge in itself”, BIO-HArT project manager Nadine Wennersbusch explains.
Besides the realization of the demonstrator itself, the goal of the BIO-HArT project is to further optimize the processes for the production of bio-aromatics. Different parameters, such as reactant feed flow rates and ratios as well as reaction pressure and temperatures, can influence the efficiency of the reaction. All these parameters, amongst others, can be varied in the set-ups to determine the optimal settings for the highest yield and selectivity. These results can then be used to evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of the process at industrial scale.
Earlier this year, Biorizon sent out a call for participation to attract companies that are willing to test samples in their applications. Several companies from all over Europe have responded to this call, and with the realization of the demonstrator, Biorizon is expecting to discuss the results with these companies by the first quarter of 2018.
The BIO-HArT project was established by a contribution of the European Interreg V Flanders-The Netherlands program that stimulates innovation, sustainable energy, a healthy environment and the labor market by means of cross-border projects.

Image: Diels-Alder pilot by TNO