Advantages of Micro Process Engineering

Due to the small thermal and mass transfer resistences of thin fluid layers and numerous possibilities of coupling various functions, microstructured devices often have the potential of reaching much higher efficiencies than conventional devices. This is summarized by the term process intensification.

Microstructured devices have the following potential advantages:

  1. High energy and mass efficiency

    Minimization of thermal and mass transfer resistances results in a reduced specific energy consumption per mass unit of the product. Due to an improved control of process conditions, the process can be operated at maximum selectivity, which is reflected by a reduced formation of by-products.

  2. Smaller space needed

    As transfer resistances are minimized, high process velocities can be achieved, such that very compact devices can be designed. Microstructurization also allows to integrate various functions on smallest space and to use synergy effects of thermal or advanced coupling. An example is thermal coupling of an exothermal and an endothermal reaction via a thin wall located in between.

  3. Enhanced safety

    As a result of the small volume of microstructured devices, the reactive inventory is reduced. Undesired chain reactions can be suppressed thanks to the large wall area per volume. Moreover, local production makes the transport of hazardous substances unnecessary, as a result of which safety is increased.

  4. More rapid process development

    Supply of standardized, modular, well-characterized devices increases scale-up reliability and reduces the time needed for process development.

  5. Lower costs

    Operation costs can be reduced by improved resource and energy efficiency. A compact design results in the need of smaller space and possibly reduced investment costs. In case of modular plant concepts, it is easier to adapt the production rate to fluctuating demand.