Research

Professor Hessel is one of the leading researchers in flow chemistry

Prof. dr. Volker Hessel studied chemistry at Mainz University (PhD in organic chemistry, 1993). In 1994 he entered the Institut für Mikrotechnik Mainz GmbH (1996: group leader microreaction technology). In 2002, Prof. Hessel was appointed Vice Director R&D at IMM and in 2007 as Director R&D. In 2005 and 2011, Prof. Hessel was appointed as part-time and full professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, respectively, for the chair of “Micro Flow Chemistry and Process Technology”. He is honorary professor at TU Darmstadt, Germany, and guest professor at Kunming University of Science and Technology, China.

Prof. Dr. Hessel is (co-)author of more than 380 peer-reviewed publications and 10 books. He received the AIChE Award “Excellence in Process Development Research” in 2007, the ERC Advanced Grant “Novel Process Windows” in 2010, and the IUPAC ThalesNano Prize in Flow Chemistry in 2017. In the same year, he got granted as coordinator the FET OPEN project ONE-FLOW. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal “Green Processing and Synthesis”. He was authority in the 35-man teamed Enquete Commission “Future of the Chemical Industry" of the parliament of Germany’s state Nordrhein-Westfalia and is advisor for GSK for the Green Chemical Manufacturing Programme in Singapore.

Auto sampling for UHPLC-PAT Analysis of a Pharmaceutical Flow Chemistry Reaction

The purpose of this work is to conduct the continuous (online) sampling and analytics for the pharmaceutical manufacturing using flow chemistry in the framework of Process Analytical Technology (PAT) methods to control the quality of the API manufacture.

Coiled Micro-flow Inverter for Selective Extraction of Metal Ions from Mimicked Asteroid Ore

Cobalt and Nickel are amongst the most important nonferrous metals. It was discovered by NASA that metals such as iron, cobalt, and nickel are abundant in asteroids and critical components for space vehicles. Because of the similar physicochemical properties, the adjacent elements Co and Ni always coexist in nature. Flow chemistry is commonly considered as prime approach for chemical manufacturing and processing in the outer space, as it is compact, able to operate under microgravity, and in vacuum. In addition, it is highly efficient, and has shown to surpass the efficiency of traditional technologies such as mixer-settler.

Immobilized lipase-catalyzed synthesis of biodiesel in a microreactor using recycled grease trap waste as a feedstock

The rise in global demand for energy and the increase in greenhouse gases are currently the driving force for research into the production of biodiesel which has been considered as an alternative fuel to substitute mineral diesel. However, the conventional biodiesel technology has some considerable disadvantages such as energy consumption, long reaction time, and high production cost. To solve those problems and to improve the marketability of biodiesel, intensive research on the development of new and more sustainable technologies is required. The keys are very clear – cheaper feedstock and more efficient process technology, yet almost all of the approaches of the last decade just focused on one of the innovation points rather than to act holistic. Microreactors have been proposed manifold times, primarily because they significantly can increase the mass transport between two phases, i.e. alcohol and oil.

Food waste valorisation of Southern Australian crops and food chain by flow chemistry, considering real-world Australian supply chains

This project may contain several food-waste-2-value flow chemistry transformations. One of these is concerned with the conversion of a real-life major South Australian crop (waste) canola oil into a high-price chemical. This crop shall contain a very high load of unsaturated fatty acids or triglycerides, in particular, oleic acid and linoleic acid or triglycerides [1].
This feedstock will be extracted (or otherwise separated) from the food (waste) and contacted in a flow chemistry reactor with ethene and a catalyst, undergoing a metathesis reaction to give 1-decene (worldwide production rate 2016: about 120,000 tons) [2]. This is a one-step concept to convert triglycerides to 1-decene directly without the need of their hydrolysis to fatty acids.
The integral part is a smart catalyst choice. An immobilized homogeneous catalyst is planned to be used. Activated carbon or similar carbon material is preferred as support. Major parameters will be the surface area and suitability as support for catalyst deposition/immobilization. Nanocatalysts and possibly master solvent media such as ionic liquids have the potential to add to the flow process. A tube-in-tube microreactor has been prepared for this purpose and can be effectively operated for the gas-liquid reaction.

Separation of the liquid smoke generated from pyrolysis/torrefaction of agricultural residues

Agricultural crop residues are a source of inexpensive biomass to convert into valuable products. The recovery of valuable chemicals from plant residues would partly solve the disposal issue and offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic chemical production. One approach to separate and concentrate valuable resources from biomass is pyrolysis to produce the so-called liquid smokes which can be used as an additive to improve the flavour, colour, texture, and in certain cases, provide enhanced shelf life for food products. The purpose of this study is to investigate an appropriate and affordable micro-flow technique (i.e. extraction) for the selectively separation of useful components from liquid smoke which is produced from the pyrolysis of agricultural waste.

Microfluidic chip design for the synthesis of quantum nanodots in the outer space conditions

Quantum dots are well known for their size-dependent electro-optical properties, and by controlling the geometrical size, shape and the strength of the confinement potential, they can be easily tuned to emit radiation at desired wavelengths. It can act as the decay to protect the growing number of satellites and other space assets against hostile threats and collisions. This project aims at designing an onboard microfluidic chip for the production of high-quality quantum dots to divert the missile attack from a spacecraft or a satellite. The success of this project might significantly contribute to the outer space industry of Australia.

Temperature-switchable ionic liquid-water system for catalyst recovery and product purification in enzymatic reactionss

The pharmaceutical and food industry is now pushing manufacturers to switch to continuous processing until the year 2026. In this research, we will focus on using temperature switchable biphasic ionic liquids and water in a two-phase system to perform an enzymatic reaction.

Life cycle assessment applied for the production of Ibuprofens

This project will investigate the production of Ibuprofen focusing on the environmental impacts, economic feasibilities, and the social issues.

  • Auto sampling for UHPLC-PAT Analysis of a Pharmaceutical Flow Chemistry Reaction

  • Temperature-switchable ionic liquid-water system for catalyst recovery and product purification in enzymatic reactionss

  • Food waste valorisation of Southern Australian crops and food chain by flow chemistry, considering real-world Australian supply chains

  • Life cycle assessment applied for the production of Ibuprofens

  • Flow chemistry under simulated outer-space conditions

We are enthusiastic to conduct research in the field of pharmaceutical engineering.

Flow Chemistry fills the gap in graduate education by covering chemistry and reaction principles along with current practice, including examples of relevant commercial reaction, separation, automation, and analytical equipment.

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