Published in ‘Duurzaam Geproduceerd‘, courtesy of Wim Raaijen

AkzoNobel Industrial Chemicals wants to apply more novel process technology. The company developed a methodology to hasten it. Innovation Director Marco Waas in the new edition of Dutch magazine : “Duurzaam Geproduceerd”: “We are currently investigating the possibility of making chlorine with the Spinning Disc on a small scale.” September 18th, Waas will be one of the speakers during EemsDeltaVisie.

“The current chemical industry is particularly energy and capital intensive,” states Marco Waas. “From our social commitment and economic considerations AkzoNobel will look for new solutions.” He stressed that it should not remain a noncommittal search within AkzoNobel Industrial Chemicals, but a strategy.Where we want to extend our vision, with a ten year horizon.. Many new technologies are doing well in the Netherlands, up until the pilot phase. Then it stagnates. “Waas who, after a career at Unilever, landed at the Technical University of Delft, has seen what happens to a lot of technostarters. “In the United States and Canada they can count on a lot of venture capital. Not here in the Netherlands. What the reason for this is? Culture? I do not know. I think the government, in addition to industry, has to play an important role to pull innovative manufacturing facilities across the financial gap.”

Akzo Nobel has developed a new methodology, based on a quick scan method, that is already in use at DSM to determine the suitability of new technologies in specific situations. Auto Innovation Methodology (AIM), has to turn the traditional innovation process somewhat upside down. Traditionally innovations in process technology start with the developers in the laboratory. That is a classical technology push. AIM is specifically intended to take a better look at the fundamental drivers of a chemical reaction and also to engage users, operational people intensively. When an investment is desired, they are carefully guided by a specifically designed program. Eventually it becomes clear which technology is best suited to the specific production process.

In terms of process intensification Waas currently sees several technologies that are promising according to Akzo Nobel. For example, the chemical company sees attractive opportunities in the Spinning Disc, a development of the Eindhoven University of Technology, currently being developed by technostarter Flowid. Waas: “We currently investigate, together with the TU Eindhoven, the ability to make chlorine with the Spinning Disc. In the autumn we will present the results of the study at a conference, but it looks promising. Even though it is a complex reaction. For example, we need a solution to separate the mutual reactive chorine and lye, think of a membrane for instance.
It could very well be a breakthrough. Currently, AkzoNobel produces chlorine in Rotterdam and Delfzijl with the latest technology, electrolyzers. This technology is capital and energy intensive and is reaching its limit. New energy and capital-saving processes are therefore welcome, since they also entail immediate significant cost savings. Moreover, the Spinning Disc also allows for decentralized production. Waas: “I certainly do not exclude that in the future we, in addition to our major industry clusters, for a number of clients, will produce chlorine locally and therefore on- site at these customers.” It offers in this case opportunities to reduce transport and further enhance the safety.