Energy efficiency increase in manufacturing processes through the changeover from batch-based into continuous production by the use of mini and micro-process engineering components - µKontE
Process conversion from paragraphwise to continuous binder production with microstructured apparatuses
The reduction of energy demand plays an important role in the industry to achieve economic and ecological goals. There is great potential for increasing energy efficiency in the chemical industry, particularly in the pharmaceutical and specialty chemicals industries, by transferring processes that are operated on a unit-by-segment basis to continuous processes. The BMWi joint project µKontE is examining the production of a binder emulsion from AURO Pflanzenchemie AG, which serves as the basis for paint and varnish production. The aim of the project is to increase the efficiency of the production process. The saving of resources and energy is to be realized by converting from batchwise to continuous production using micro- and micro-processing components. In this process, the processing of a highly viscous feedstock (approx. 95 000 mPa s at 20 °C) presents a special challenge. The fluid must be pumped through the plant without blocking or excessive pressure losses and emulsified with further fluids mixed into an aqueous phase. This is done after preheating using microstructured mixers. In the modular laboratory plant, the components used for emulsification were characterized with regard to the influence of essential process and operating parameters on product quality, in particular particle size distribution, and specific energy input. The Reynolds number for the organic phase in the operating range considered was less than 1 for all microcomponents examined, the number for the aqueous phase was between 1 and approx. 350, and some components were found to be unsuitable for the task due to their short service life, insufficient emulsifying effect or low throughput. A passive mixer and its combination with an active mixer produced good emulsifying results. This has resulted in product properties comparable to those of the original emulsion. For the overall energy input to be minimized in the process, the possibilities of energy integration were examined and the suitability for practical use was tested in long-term tests. The results of these analyses and the generalisable conclusions derived from them are presented and discussed.