A Multi-Scale Approach


CARENA aims for breakthroughs in catalytic membrane materials and processes by having materials sciences and engineering progress at all scales. Therefore an essential aspect of CARENA is the multi-scale approach illustrated in the diagram below and based on the following activities:


1. CREATE novel process schemes that turn novel materials and reactions concepts into innovative industrial processes with new opportunities, such as reduction of the number of process steps and elimination of energy intensive separations. CARENA targets 30% lower CAPEX and operating costs.


2. DEVELOP reactor concepts that match and control highly intensified rates of mass and heat transfer resulting from application of novel materials and architectures. Process intensification combining in-situ reaction and separation will be designed for equilibrium-limited reactions of strong industrial relevance.


3. OPTIMIZE membranes and catalysts through the development of novel nano-architectured materials and their integration e.g. using nano-membrane coated catalysts and multi-layer membrane/catalyst interfaces to enable selective conversion of raw feedstocks such as light alkanes (C1, C3) and CO2 by generating (in-situ) active species (O*, H+, H2O2,...).




                                Multi-scale approach in CARENA linking materials, reactors and processes



A Multidisciplinary Approach


CARENA's value chain

CARENA's consortium is a multidisciplinary value chain: new and strong bridges between university (basic research), R&D centre (demonstration of proof of concept) and industry (technology assessment/evaluation) will be developed.


Knowledge transfer

CARENA partners have complementary roles in knowledge generation and transfer, for both fundamental science and applied work, as shown in the diagram below:



                                                                             Knowledge transfer in CARENA



CARENA's Toolboxes


For a synergy between application-oriented developments and fundamental research

CARENA focuses on a selected number of applications with clear goals supported by the active role of industrial partners (WPs 1-3). The strength of the multi-disciplinary approach defined lies in the synergy between the various development paths and the underpinning science to go beyond traditional boundaries between applied and fundamental research:


• The development of catalytic membrane reactors for selected chemical processes encompasses all scientific, technical and technological aspects, from reactor- and process design to modelling and techno-economical analysis for an optimal integration of materials and technology;

• The underlying generic research necessary to tailor materials properties to match the operational window of all CMR components is carried out in an open innovation mode, ensuring sharing of efforts and knowledge.


Three “toolboxes” have been created as transversal WPs to provide key generic knowledge and dedicated tools for all applications… and thus reach CARENA’s ambitious objectives:


Membrane Toolbox (WP4)
The membrane toolbox aims at creating and using relevant characterisation tools and models to increase the generic knowledge on membranes relevant to the selected processes.

Both state-of-the-art and novel membranes will be studied for their performance in operations and degradation behaviour:

membranes currently available are selected as “low-risk” candidates to demonstrate successful proof-of-concept of innovative CMRs in CARENA.

novel membranes considered as “high risk/high reward” candidates will be developed to promote long term R&D and new technological paths.


Catalyst Toolbox (WP5)
Catalysts in a fixed bed reactor and in a CMR withstand different operational conditions at all length scales and their functionalities should therefore be tuned towards their applications. The catalyst toolbox aims at investigating thoroughly the membrane/catalyst interfaces in CMRs so as to develop optimal catalyst designs and integration.
New experimental procedures will be developed to identify intermediate species and catalytic mechanisms through in-situ characterization. As a support to this, new screening devices and methodologies will be developed to evaluate catalyst performance in CMRs.
Modelling Toolbox (WP6)
CAPE tools -Computer Aided Process Engineering tools- will be used to support the development of CMRs as well as CMR processes. Kinetic models -from the catalyst toolbox- and mass transfer models -from the membrane toolbox- will be combined and extended.
Several models of different capabilities and detail will be considered:
for detailed engineering (CMR apparatus design)
for overall process design 
to avoid/reduce expensive empirical experimental work & pilot testing
to enable techno-economic analysis of alternative processes, indicating the incentive to introduce
   CMRs into industry
to enable health & safety assessments. 

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