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Integrated Multiscale Process Units with Locally Structured Elements

Final Report Summary - IMPULSE (Integrated Multiscale Process Units with Locally Structured Elements)

The 'Integrated Multiscale Process Units with Locally Structured Elements' (IMPULSE) represented a breakthrough for radical long-term transformation of the chemical industries in Europe. The overall objective of IMPULSE was the effective and targeted integration of innovative process equipment such as microreactors, compact heat exchangers, thin-film devices and other micro and/or meso-structured components to attain radical performance enhancement for whole process systems in chemical production.

The approach developed in IMPULSE, known as structured multiscale design, represents a new design methodology for chemical process engineering to attain reliable, efficient and cost-effective integration of small-scale, high-performance structured equipment and devices into large-scale production systems.

This goal was to be achieved through locally targeted integration of innovative, intensified process equipment (such as microstructured reactors, compact heat exchangers, thin-film devices and other micro- and/or meso-structured components) for enhanced whole-process performance, thereby contributing to supply-chain sustainability and competitiveness.

The IMPULSE approach, entitled 'structured multiscale design', represents a paradigm shift in the concepts and methods of chemical and process engineering: rather than adapting operating conditions to equipment limitations, structured multiscale design adapts the equipment structure and process architecture to enable achievement of the most desirable operating conditions for a given physico-chemical transformation. Attaining widespread implementation of this new approach requires clear proof of principle case studies, successful demonstration activities in several industrial sectors and development and dissemination of generic methodological concepts and tools. This is precisely what IMPULSE has done.

The success of the IMPULSE project is the achievement of nine specific case studies, resulting in five industrial pilot demonstration units in the industrial sectors of pharmaceutical products, specialty chemicals and consumer goods, as well as the development of appropriate design methods, tools and training material.

In addition to the demonstration activities and case studies, the generic methodological research in IMPULSE achieved major breakthroughs in the development of the concepts required for structured multiscale design and in the translation of those concepts into forms suitable for training activities targeted specifically to industrial audiences. The IMPULSE training material developed for this purpose was tested within the organisations of several IMPULSE industrial partners, and complementary training material for academic audiences was developed as well.

Beyond the IMPULSE consortium partners, the strong interest expressed by more than a dozen companies outside of the IMPULSE consortium, including equipment manufacturers, in the activities of the IMPULSE user group and in the creation of the IMPULSE equipment database, offered additional visibility for extensive uptake of the new approaches throughout European industry.

Following project completion, the legacy management arrangements for IMPULSE, including generalised publication of the IMPULSE 'Big Book', summarising the essential features of the methodological developments, the creation of a specific IMPULSE web portal for information exchange, and the integration of IMPULSE results in the foundations of at least three new projects in the Seventh Framework Programme, provide a strong basis for continued widespread dissemination of the IMPULSE approach to a large audience in both the industrial and academic communities.

An IMPULSE 'Big Book' was produced at the end of the project, summarising the essential features of the methodological developments. The 'Big Book' describes tools and methodologies to support multiscale process design for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. It provides guidance for process designers and offers decision making tools as well as technical protocols (experimentation, equipment design and process control). The aim of the IMPULSE Big Book is to provide a coherent and easily accessible description of the entire methodology to facilitate immediate deployment by experienced process technologists, either chemists or engineers.

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