Additive manufacturing of distillation columns for the separation of methanol-water mixtures for offshore applications

The H2Mare project focuses on the production of green hydrogen at sea using wind energy instead of using grid lines to connect to an onshore H2 production system. As the output of an offshore wind turbine is generally higher than that of an onshore turbine, the surplus energy is used for H2 production. The main idea is to integrate the wind turbine into an electrolyzer and thus achieve a major advantage, which led to the idea of producing further downstream products such as green methanol and green ammonia.



In methanol production, the methanol-water mixture is distilled in a later step. This case is particularly complicated due to the offshore conditions (e.g. wave movements) and the need for a compact size. Additive manufacturing is the key to modern solutions for such complications. Former researchers at IMVT have developed a spiral distillation column with very good separation performance. The design is optimized for the separation of most hydrocarbon mixtures. The institute also has a distillation test rig to experimentally test the 3D-printed columns.



Your tasks:
1. printing of new 3D-printed columns using powder bed fusion of metals (PBF-M , SLM) and binder jetting (and post-processing after printing).
2. optimization of the design of the 3D-printed structures in terms of separation performance.
3. distillation experiments on different 3D printed units using a methanol-water mixture.
4. calibration of the methanol concentration and analysis of the samples using FT-IR spectroscopy.
5. modification of the existing distillation column with respect to offshore conditions.
6. modification of the distillation test rig for new experimental procedures such as imitation of wave motion (can also be done with 3D printing - metal or polymer).
7. dynamic simulation of the distillation process and validation with experiments.
8. numerical modeling of fluid dynamics within the distillation column with regard to dynamic movements.


The pictures above show the 3D printing facilities available at IMVT. You can use your knowledge and imagination to build the distillation column and test rig you need for your research.

1. you have a background in chemical/process engineering or mechanical engineering.
2. you will be expected to carry out literature searches, present your work and also prepare a report.
3. you have experience or understanding of separation techniques, especially distillation.
4. you have basic knowledge of CAD software such as Autodesk Inventor.
5. you are expected to have experience with 3D printing.
6. more interest and experience in laboratory work.
7. experience with simulation software such as ASPEN PLUS, COMSOL or ANSYS.
8. it is expected that the thesis will be written in English.

This is an open and broad topic, so the focus of your thesis can be chosen based on your profile and experience. Or you can choose the topic of your thesis based on the available research topics.
Please send your CV and cover letter with your preferred topic (experiment or simulation or 3D printing) and type of work (thesis or internship or HiWi) to if you are interested in the topic.

Start date: Master or Bachelor thesis - immediately, internship or HiWi - 5 weeks after confirmation.

Assigning professor: Prof. Dr. Christoph Klahn
Supervisor: M.Sc. Vignesh Jayavelu