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  • Final Activity Report Summary - ABENCA (Three industrial chemical research projects in: biocatalysis, reaction state modelling and electronic noses process control)

Final Activity Report Summary - ABENCA (Three industrial chemical research projects in: biocatalysis, reaction state modelling and electronic noses process control)

The project ABENCA was a merged project of three industrial chemical research projects in: biocatalysis, reaction state modelling and electronic noses process control.

The main objective has been to acquire a range of useful biocatalysts and develop innovative and compatible processes. Business units have been visited and their processes have been screened for the potential of biocatalysis to produce existing and new products. Potential cases have been thoroughly screened for leads in literature, drivers, economics and technological opportunities. A selection of the most feasible cases has been experimentally investigated for proof-of-principle, followed by optimisation of the process parameters and biocatalyst shape for an optimal reactor performance. A wide hydrolase-based platform has been set-up, and specific reactions for synthesis of esters, amides, etc. were implemented. In some of these cases, patentability is still under consideration. Economic studies of all these processes were developed as well. Work on other enzyme types has been also carried out, and is presently continuing. Methods for immobilisation of biocatalysts have been optimised and implemented, being crucial for the re-usability of the enzymes, and thus for the economical assessment.

At the final stage of the project whole cell technology has been investigated for a reduction reaction for a specific business unit to acquire knowledge and expertise on culture growth and reaction. At the business units, the perception of the importance of biotechnology has increased considerably during the TOK time.

Reaction kinetics:
Understanding reaction pathway and kinetics of a (side) reaction provides better safety and control, optimising operating conditions to obtain higher selectivity and conversion. Introduction and acquisition meetings with the different business units were held resulting in the definition of several projects divided in two main categories:
(i) modelling of heterogeneous catalysis;
(ii) determination of the reaction mechanism of the main and side reactions in a chemical process.
Molecular modelling simulations on heterogeneous catalysis elucidated the role of several additives in the hydrogenation reaction. A promoter could be proposed of which the effect could experimentally be verified. A software tool to efficiently locate transition states has been implemented by which the reaction mechanism of chelate production could successfully be studied. As a break through, this tool allowed the modelling of solvent molecules taking part in the chemical reaction. The reaction mechanism of some (side) reactions has been studied resulting in the selection of stabilisers and improved process conditions. Molecular modelling has been recognised by the business units as an important and effective tool to elucidate reaction mechanisms. A number of processes could be improved.

E-noses pro control:
Based on the relative low cost of e-noses, one can expect better process control resulting in higher productivity, selectivity and margins. The fellowship is meant to select and investigate applications for e-noses, suitable for process control and process monitoring. An electronic nose was purchased, installed and optimised. A wide range of single compounds, complex mixtures and formulations were measured for the business units. For some application fields, sampling is crucial as well as difficult. In some cases samples might be subject to change during transport or storage. A market survey was done to check what portable / mobile E-nose solutions are commercially available and are suitable for applications within Akzo Nobel. This ended in the purchase of an instrument. Emission control on a production site in Sweden became an important task, as there were already complaints from neighbours about smell emission, which should (of course) be prevented. As a result and follow-up activity for the Marie Curie action, a project proposal was prepared, to put up a joint project with the GOSPEL project (Network of Excellence) and universities in Sweden. Also other business units showed interest in using the instrument and a specialist in the future.

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76, Velperweg
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