Micro Flow Chemistry & Process Technology

Mission and Goals

The research group of Volker Hessel aims to perform cutting-edge scientific and technological research in the chemical process engineering sciences with specific emphasis on developing a suited process chemistry for micro- and flow reactors. This is achieved via two pillars, one is the use of harsh chemistries (high-T, p, c, tailored solvents and energies) – the chemical intensification – and the other one is a radical change in process design when using flow synthesis – process-design intensification. Both are named Novel Process Windows.

The group's research focuses on the two pillars mentioned above, in particular on high-temperature and high-pressure synthesis as well as on supercritical operation using flow compartimentation (scF-multiphases with entrapped catalysts, ‘Smart Interfaces’). The way to new process designs is not only via simple transfer of batch-to-flow, but require new reaction designs which make use of the large spatio-temporal space opened – such as cascaded reactions, tandem catalysis, and direct one-step routes. This results in process simplification and process integration, e.g. in membrane reactors. Enzyme microreactors for synthesis of complex (chiral) molecules are another example for the integration of Smart Interfaces.

The group's mission is to be among the world's top academic research groups in the field of flow chemistry, process intensification, and green engineering. In this way, an eminent contribution to the Factories of the Future (of chemical industry) is envisaged. As such endeavours need a holistic approach, cost analysis and life-cycle assessment are used for ex-ante process selection and process evaluation.

Running projects

  • Breaking the unbreakable: C-H Carbonylation in micro flow
  • Development of innovative catalysts for Syngas adjustment and Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis from Biomass for Integrated and Decentralised Production of Renewable Synthetic Fuels
  • Polyalcohol reforming to synthesis gas as logistic fuel for mobile fuel cell applications
  • Catalytic Partial Oxidation of Bio Gas and Reforming of Pyrolysis Oil (Bio Oil) for an Autothermal Synthesis Gas Production and Conversion into Fuels
  • CO2-neutral MeOH Synthesis from CO2 and H2 by Smart-Scaled, Reaction-Integrated Plasma Process
  • Photo4Future - Accelerating photoredox catalysis in continuous flow systems
  • Sensitized photoredox catalysis in continuous microfluidic reactors
  • Catalyst Cascade Reactions in 'One-Flow' within a compartmentalized, green-solvent 'Digital Synthesis Machinery' - End-to-end green process design for pharmaceuticals
  • Piloting cascaded continuous flow synthesis for the pharmaceutical industry