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FP7

POLYCAT — Result In Brief

Project ID: 246095
Funded under: FP7-NMP
Country: Germany

Sustainable chemistry in miniature

EU researchers are miniaturising catalysts and chemical reactors to develop more sustainable ways to produce fine chemicals for many different industries.
Sustainable chemistry in miniature
Catalysts are additives to chemical reactions that speed up reaction rates, increase yields and enhance the purity of final products. Catalysts that are more active, stable and selective are an important research target with a large global market.

The EU-funded POLYCAT (Modern polymer-based catalysts and microflow conditions as key elements of innovations in fine chemical syntheses) initiative aimed to create new nanoparticle catalysts that can be used with more sustainable solvents inside novel microreactor designs.

Scientists developed several different nanoparticle catalysts that could be industrially useful. In addition, POLYCAT used various biological and synthetic polymers to create supports or scaffolds for the catalysts within a microreactor.

Project members also developed techniques to insert the catalysts into the polymeric supports. The consortium submitted several patent applications for these novel catalytic systems.

Next, POLYCAT designed several microreactors and optimised them for different processes based on which catalysts were used. Microreactors are miniaturised microfluidic devices that enable the precise control of reaction variables and use minimal quantities of reagents.

Scientists tested and benchmarked these microreactor systems in the laboratory before scaling them up in an industrial pilot plant. In addition, the team successfully designed and tested a container plant concept called ECoTrainer.

Costing and life-cycle assessments suggest that project results could reduce environmental impact by up to 20 % and decrease production costs by 10 %. POLYCAT's holistic approach to chemical synthesis using novel catalytic systems should have a broad impact on the EU fine chemicals industry.

Related information

Keywords

Catalysts, fine chemicals, polymer, nanoparticle catalysts, microreactor, microfluidic
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