Flowid from Eindhoven is constructing a small-scale plant at Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen. This so-called “Spin-in” project will cost 1.7 million euros, over 700,000 of which is provided as funding from the South Netherlands Operational Program (OP South – “OP-Zuid” in Dutch). In the plant, the young company will be applying patented spinning-disk technology on an industrial scale. This concerns a new type of chemical reactor, which is not only much smaller than conventional reactors, but also much safer, more efficient and more environmentally-friendly. The plant should be finished in late 2015.

The technology, for which Flowid recently received the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award, has major potential, and may significantly boost employment and sales at the supplying industry. The market targeted by Flowid is worth hundreds of millions of euros.

For the development of the plant, Flowid is collaborating with Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), where the technology was developed, and with Brightlands Chemelot Campus, where the necessary facilities for these types of plants are present.

The project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and the government with funding from OP-Zuid, as it is aimed at the further development and marketing of a new type of process technology.

Member of the Provincial Executive Twan Beurskens (Economic Affairs, Province of Limburg) is delighted by the arrival of Flowid: ‘This is a huge gain for Brightlands Chemelot Campus, and for the economy in Limburg. You can see new companies making more and more use of the knowledge present at knowledge institutes such as TU/e, and also managing to secure funds from European funding programs. The campuses in Limburg are the crystallization point of these innovative developments. Flowid is a fantastic addition to our knowledge economy!’

Spinning-disk technology
In a spinning-disk reactor, various liquids are fed from above onto horizontally positioned disks. The disks, about the size of a CD, rotate rapidly in a tight-fitting casing. The substances mix due to the centrifugal forces, while being pumped along the spinning disks. The substances enter a chemical reaction in well-controllable conditions and the product formed is collected.

Follow this link for an animated video of the technology:

Spinning-disk technology stands out from common technologies due to the smaller size of the reactors, a reduced use of energy and raw materials, less or no waste production and the lower operational and investment costs. The smaller dimensions and the intrinsic safety of the system make it suitable for small-scale production. This is a high-value feature, seeing that it is preferable to process bio-based raw materials locally, at the source (to prevent transport of water in the biomass).

At Brightlands Chemelot Campus, Flowid will be upscaling the spinning-disk technology from a laboratory to an industrial environment. This will allow the capacity to be raised from 8 m3 to 80 m3 per day, which is more than enough for many applications. The campus offers an environment in which the requirements, for example, relating to safety and infrastructure are met. Additionally, potential buyers are also present at the campus.

The spinning-disk reactor will be used, among other things, for the development and improvement of bio-based production processes. After all, a lot of research is still required into the most adequate conversion of plant-based material into useful building blocks for materials.

Relationship with other campus activities
Due to the usefulness of the reactor for bio-based production processes, Flowid dovetails with other activities at Brightlands Chemelot Campus, in particular the Chemelot InSciTe (Institute for Science and Technology) scientific center. This center, which is being established, will be focusing on the development, production, testing and perfecting of building blocks for bio-based materials.

In this regard, the plant fits in with the development of new pilot-plant facilities at the campus, which – among other things – are geared towards the production of building blocks for bio-based materials. Once these facilities are finished, Flowid will be able to use them.

Government support
The Flowid plant was made possible in part by support from the government from the South Netherlands Operational Program (OP-Zuid). This is a joint funding program by the provinces of Limburg, North Brabant and Zeeland, together with the cities of Breda, Tilburg, ‘s‑Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven, Helmond, Venlo, Sittard-Geleen, Heerlen and Maastricht for activities that are co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The funding for this project allocated through OP-Zuid is funded by ERDF and the central government.

Flowid had previously received a Valorization Grant of 225,000 euros from Technologiestichting STW to introduce the spinning-disk technology on the market.

Eindhoven University of Technology
Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is a research university that specializes in engineering, science and technology. The spinning-disk technology was developed by the Chemical Reactor Engineering research group, which was also the birthplace of Flowid. The aim of this research group is to understand and monitor the interaction between physical transport phenomena, catalytic activity and reaction and separation processes for various applications. For more information: www.tue.nl

Flowid Products B.V. is a spin-off of Eindhoven University of Technology. The company develops, builds and tests radically innovative process technology solutions for the process industry and by now has built up seven years of experience in continuous process solutions. Flowid employs 12 staff members. For more information:www.flowid.nl

Brightlands Chemelot Campus
At Brightlands Chemelot Campus, research and development are performed and education is provided in the field of chemistry and materials, and related life sciences. The focus is on high-performance materials, biomedical materials and bio-based materials. The campus is developing into a creative breeding ground for innovation and new businesses, with thousands of highly-trained workers. This dynamic has been created in part through collaboration between the business community, educational and knowledge institutes, and the authorities. The campus provides an active contribution through activities such as facilitating the construction of pilot plants. Chemelot Campus collaborates with Maastricht Health Campus under the name Brightlands. Brightlands also relates to the research program of Maastricht University, Zuyd Hogeschool and the Province of Limburg. For more information: www.brightlands.com

The South Netherlands Operational Program (OP-Zuid) is a joint funding program by the provinces of Zeeland, North Brabant and Limburg, together with the cities of Breda, Tilburg, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven, Helmond, Venlo, Sittard-Geleen, Heerlen and Maastricht. It is an economic boost program that is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for almost €186 million and by the government for €46 million. The main objectives of OP-Zuid are promoting competitiveness, sustainable economic growth and improving employment in the south of the Netherlands. For more information:www.op-zuid.nl