MACBETH Project on the Way to Industrial Scale
Despite a difficult working period with drastic restrictions in all participating countries caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, MACBETH project is proceeding nearly as expected. In relation to the overall project duration, a delay of only 6 months is anticipated. Thanks to virtual tools, close collaborations within and between all cases are sustainable to bring MACBETH technology forward. Thereby, the online MACBETH Consortium meeting and the case-wise workshops held on 3-5 November 2020 were a useful opportunity for extensive dialogue and a fruitful exchange of information, also thanks to a very effective organization by the coordinator. All MACBETH partners showed great participation and commitment and contributed to the discussion held during the dedicated workshops on November 4th with very high-level knowledge and attitude to innovation.
In all MACBETH cases, fundamental results were obtained in the last months enabling to move forward to the next phases.
In HYFO case, the new case member HZG is successfully integrated in the team and has performed a rapid start: not only successfully applying the standard membrane material to the support structures to withstand high trans membrane pressures, but also finding an optimized membrane material which can improve separation and thus reactor performance. As part of reactor development, scale-up experiments with a run-time >1100hrs have been performed. Collaboration with the Evonik production team has been intensified to prepare the implementation of HYFO demo reactor, identify mounting points within the production plant and prepare process flow diagrams.
Due to intensive development, a catalyst ready to be scaled at TRL7 is selected in H2 case. However, novel formulations will be tested to further decrease catalyst cost. Additionally, a dedicated membrane type is selected as optimized support. The research is now ongoing to create other types of membranes also making use of supports developed for other MACBETH cases (cross fertilization). The H2 case reactors have passed the HAZOP evaluation with close collaboration of TUE/ENGIE/ICI/TECNALIA/CNH2 and the systems are being finalized in their detailed design. Finally, work is ongoing in the site preparation for the final tests.
The activities on the building blocks for the PDH case showed a good progress and have made up for a part of the delay accumulated during the first lockdown period in 2020. In particular, the development and testing activity for the catalyst and permselective membranes have shown good progress and promising results. Main design features of the PDH case pilot unit have been the subject of common discussion among partners and very good collaboration has been confirmed.
For BOC case, a process suitable for upscaling is chosen utilizing selective ethanolysis of fish oil catalyzed by an enzyme to enrich valuable omega-3-fatty acids (EPA and DHA). As a next step, the results from small-scale batch reactions will be transferred to a continuous flow process with lab-scale equipment. Furthermore, a MACBETH-wide collaboration is foreseen to find the most suitable membrane for the challenging separation problem.