Oct 3, 2017 | By Tess

The European Federation of Chemical Engineering (EFCE) has given a number of awards to innovative chemical engineering projects at the 10th World Congress of Chemical Engineering hosted in Barcelona, Spain.

One of the initiatives recognized by EFCE is an innovative project by Air Liquide, a French industrial gas company, which involves the development of a 3D printed reactor used to increase the efficiency of hydrogen production.

The World Congress of Chemical Engineering, ongoing until October 5, is an event that has brought together over 3,000 delegates and representatives from various chemical engineering companies and organizations. In addition to awarding notable innovations in the field, the showcase is also used as an opportunity to discuss current trends and future potentials of chemical engineering technologies.

After the first award of the conference was given to Richard Darton, president of IChemE, Air Liquide was presented with the second: EFCE’s 2017 Process Intensification Award for Industrial Innovation.

Whether or not the French company puts the award up on its mantel, the technology for which it was recognized is certainly worth talking about.

Air Liquide has developed a 3D printed milli-structured heat exchanger reactor designed specifically for the production of hydrogen by steam reforming natural gas. How does that work? Well, basically, the 3D printed reactor is built to optimize the hydrogen-making process by reusing the heat used in the initial excess steam production and “increasing the heat transfer between the hot process streams.”

According to Air Liquide, reusing heat has helped its innovative 3D printed reactor to reduce operating costs by 20 per cent and CO2 emissions by an impressive 12 per cent.

“This reactor is a very interesting example of the use of 3D printing in the manufacture of this new intensified reactor, and has the potential to be a disruptive innovation for industry,” commented EFCE’s Working Party on Process Intensification.

Raphaël Faure and Matthieu Flin from Air Liquide accept the EFCE award

Air Liquide began work on the 3D printed reactor in 2015, and has successfully tested the device at its Paris Saclay research center (where the reactor was operational for over 3,000 hours). Currently, the company is building an industrial pilot plant (expected to be up and running by late 2018), and says commercial applications for its 3D printed reactor technology could be available as soon as 2020.

The company is confident that its efficient reactor technology will positively impact a number of hydrogen-using fields, including oil and gas, floating liquefied natural gas, and even small scale hydrogen microgeneration.

At the EFCE event, a third award was given to Professor Sauro Pierucci from the Politecnico di Milano in Italy for his work promoting chemical engineering in Europe. A lifetime achievement award was also given to Professor Luis Puigjaner from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, in Barcelona, Spain, for his long and continued dedication to the field of chemical engineering.

Within France, Air Liquide has been a strong proponent for additive manufacturing technologies. In fact, in 2016, the company teamed up with Poly-Shape to launch FAIR, a multi-million euro project aimed at advancing France’s industrial additive manufacturing industry.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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