In the process industry, downstream processes are the steps with the highest consumption of energy and resources in industrial operations. Moreover, the integration of new processes often requires a large portion of the CAPEX and OPEX. To significantly enhance the competitiveness of the European process industry and to contribute to Europe’s goal of a clean and liveable environment, it is highly desired to have a very broadly applicable concept for an efficient integration of downstream operations in the overall process chain.
The MACBETH consortium provides a breakthrough technology by combining catalytic synthesis with the corresponding separation units in a single highly efficient catalytic membrane reactor (CMR).
This disruptive technology can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of large volume industrial process by up to 35 %. Additionally, resource and energy efficiency will be increased by up to 70%. The revolutionary new reactor design will not only guarantee substantially smaller and safer production plants but has also a tremendous competitive advantage since CAPEX is decreased by up to 50% and OPEX by up to 80%.
To achieve this, the MACBETH consortium combines the catalytic synthesis step with the highly efficient separation step via a tailor-made membrane. The predecessor EU funded projects ROMEO, BIONICO and CARENA and further fundamental developments have laid a strong basis by showing the proof of concept for CMRs at TRL 5.
Successful pilot plants have been operated for highly relevant and large-scale processes: i) Hydroformylation (HYFO), ii) Hydrogen production (H2) and iii) Propane dehydrogenation (PDH).
Key members of these consortiums have now joined forces in MACBETH to bring CMR to the level of TRL 7 and build the basis to move forward for commercialisation of the three novel technologies. Moreover, the knowledge and experiences from the three successful European projects provides the basis for tailor-made CMR solutions broadly applicable at significantly different conditions in almost any sector of the process industry requiring separation after catalytic synthesis.
To demonstrate the exploitation potential, MACBETH will extend the CMR technology to the field of biotechnology, as most biotechnological reactions involve the use of bacteria or enzymes, which are special types of catalysts. In this field, the selective enzymatical cleavage of fatty acids is of particularly high commercial interest. Based on alarge variety of already established building blocks (such as catalysts, membranes, support materials and reactor concepts) a demo plant for bio-catalytical oil cleavage (BOC) will be developed, showing the commercial applicability of CMR in biotechnology for the first time.
To take a further step forward and to extend the benefits of CMR technology to other sectors, a European competence center will be established. At the end of the project this will culminate in the foundation of the “Lighthouse Catalytic Membrane Reactors” (LCMR) based on a detailed business plan and including partner commitment. This spin-off company will provide access to the combined knowledge of the MACBETH project with respect to all relevant disciplines such as building blocks, modelling and system integration, valorizing the project’s results through the structured offering of commercial services to interested stakeholders.