By saving energy and improving processes, the industrial sector can contribute to sustainable energy management as well as strengthen its competitive position. ECN is a forerunner in this respect.
Bringing together membrane experts from four continents results in new ideas and new products.
The HYSEP separation module developed by ECN for Italian engineering contractor Tecnimont KT was shown to perform excellently in 2013. The module contains palladium membranes and can separate pure hydrogen from a gas mixture at a relatively low temperature and hence, in an energy-efficient manner. After having successfully performed a number of trials in a demo installation, the system was extended in 2012. Testing was resumed in 2013. Under the new conditions, the module performed even better than expected. The client is very enthusiastic and since then, ECN has patented the process of producing these membranes.
In July, ECN signed a licensing agreement with Bronswerk Heat Transfer. Together with the IBK Group, the partners are launching a heat pump application, developed by ECN, in the market. This is already being used in the paper industry. This application promises to achieve an energy saving of around 10 percent n the paper industry, since the waste heat is made suitable for reuse.
Alternative to oil
ECN is coordinator of CARENA, a five-year European collaborative project with the aim of developing more sustainable and cheaper alternatives to oil as a raw material in the process industry. In 2013, the CARENA consortium met twice: in January in Eindhoven and in June in Salerno. Bringing together 45 membrane experts from four continents is highly stimulating and effective, as is the meeting between industrial researchers and young PhD students from the field of basic sciences. The meetings are bringing forth new ideas and these have already resulted in the development of better membranes and catalysts. This has enabled the chemical processes to be carried out more efficiently than before.