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Membranes And Catalysts Beyond Economic and Technological Hurdles

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MACBETH (Membranes And Catalysts Beyond Economic and Technological Hurdles)

Période du rapport: 2021-05-01 au 2022-10-31

In all sectors of the process industry, downstream processing requires a significant share of the overall energy and resource consumption. Furthermore, downstream units require a large portion of the CAPEX and OPEX for a new process. 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 this breakthrough technology by combining catalytic synthesis with the corresponding separation units in a single highly efficient catalytic membrane reactor (CMR).

This disruptive technology has the ability to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of large volume industrial process by up to 45 %. 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 have laid the strong basis by showing the proof of concept for CMRs at TRL 5. Successful TRL 5 pilot plants are in operation for the following highly relevant and large scale processes:
• Hydroformylation
• Hydrogen production
• Propane dehydrogenation
Key members of these consortiums have now joined forces in MACBETH to bring CMR to the level of TRL 7 for all three processes and finally to commercialisation. In this unique approach of combining three successful European projects to the joint MACBETH endeavour at a higher TRL we will demonstrate on the foundation of a large variety of building blocks such as catalysts, membranes, support materials and reactor concepts that CMR are broadly applicable at significantly different conditions in virtually any sector of process industry that requires a separation after a catalytic synthesis.
Since, according to SusChem , more than 80% of the processes in the chemical industry worth approximately 1,500 bn €, depend on catalytic technologies, a huge impact can be assumed in other sectors with high confidence.

The confidence of the MACBETH consortium to reach its highly ambitious goals are underlined by two special extensions that go well beyond the ordinary scope of an EU project:
• Transfer of CMR technology to a new sector already within MACBETH
Having the three cases above in mind one might not immediately think about bio technology as the next step to further exploit the full potential of CMR. Nonetheless, the vast majority of bio technological reactions require the use of bacteria or enzymes, which are surely a special type of catalysts. A prominent and commercially highly interesting example is the selective enzymatical cleavage of fatty acids. Within MACBETH we will demonstrate that starting from building blocks of TRL 5 (not from a TRL 5 pilot plant as at the other three cases), that fit the requirements of this specific case, and with the combined support and system knowledge of the experienced CMR partners, by the end of the project we will have a TRL 7 demo plant established, that will show for the first time the commercial applicability of CMR in bio technology. It can be expected that this demo plant of bio-catalytical oil cleavage will serve as a role model for further extensions to other disciplines.

• Creation of the spin-off European “Lighthouse Catalytic Membrane Reactors” (LCMR) within MACBETH
In order to go beyond the demonstration of CMR in the field of bio technology and bringing their outstanding benefits to other sectors and an even wider field of applications, a European competence centre will be established. For the MACBETH consortium the installation of this spin-off is not a vague idea that may or may not be realized after the end of the project, but is taken very seriously and an actual detailed business plan including partner commitment will be realized already during the duration of the project. These efforts will ultimately lead to the foundation of the “Lighthouse Catalytic Membrane Reactors” (LCMR) that 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.
The components for the prototypes could be selected and scaled up. Nearly all of the membranes needed for the H2-prototypes have been prepared already. The performance of the catalyst for the PDH case is in line with the target. Catalyst production process scale-up at industrial level has been developed and is under upgrading and optimization. Checks on membrane systems are still ongoing. For the HYFO-case, supports for catalyst and membranes, membrane materials and catalyst recipe have been selected. For the BOC-case, membranes, enzymes as well as supports for enzymes have successfully been selected.
For the most advanced case (hydrogen production) one prototype is already in production. The PDH case is facing difficulties with the realization of the engineered demo plant because of components and raw materials supply issues and extremely high unforeseen cost increase. Various options how to overcome those difficulties are in discussion. For the HYFO-case, the foreseen infrastructure is ready to host the demo plant, the reactor concepts were refined, and selected catalyst loaded membrane reactors will be in place for operation in summer 2023. In the BOC-case the reactor/membrane plant will be realized as a slightly downscaled dedicated pilot plant. The construction of the pilot plant is already ongoing.
Kinetic models for the catalytic reactions are in place for all four cases. Innovative MACBETH membrane reactor models implementing building blocks models have been developed for the open or closed architecture for each case and the influence of operating and design parameters has been assessed for each case.
A market analysis was carried out, including interviews of key opinion leaders (based on the stakeholder’s analysis results) in the field of each of the 4 cases, catalytic membrane reactors, and modelling services. The first exploitation and IPR management workshop has taken place in Einhoven. The Lighthouse Catalytic Membrane Reactors was created and registered as a company named MODELTA. MODELTA will be part of the MACBETH project as a new beneficiary from 2023 on.
During the second reporting period, the MACBETH project appeared in a number of scientific publications (5 articles in journals) and public media (10). Several technical and/or scientific contributions were made to a total of 24 events and 2 dedicated MACBETH videos have been published.
The progress beyond the state of the art, the expected results as well as the socio-economic impact is already explained in deatil in section 1.