THE 2019 Process Intensification Award for Industrial Innovation has been awarded by the European Federation of Chemical Engineering (EFCE) to Agfa-Gevaert for a new flow process which does not require liquid bromine in the production of photoinitiators for printing plates.
In the conventional process, liquid bromine is added to a cold caustic solution in a batch reactor to generate sodium hypobromite, which is needed as a brominating agent. Dedicated installations are required to handle liquid bromine safely, which are expensive and inflexible. The new flow process generates hypobromite in a flow reactor by reacting aqueous sodium bromide solution with concentrated hypochlorite.
The research team, consisting of Wim Dermaut, Bart Cappuyns, Gert Engelen and Peter Kempenaers, estimates that the final product will be up to 35% cheaper without the use of liquid bromine. The proof of concept was performed with a 400 L reactor, and the team is currently working on a full-scale 1,000 L reactor.
The judges from the EFCE’s Working Party on Process Intensification were impressed that the new process results in a uge improvement in safety and flexibility, but said that progress still needs to be made for industrial scale-up.
The award will be presented on 27 May during the second International Process Intensification Conference (IPIC2) in Leuven, Belgium.
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