The European Federation of Chemical Engineering bestowed its 2017 Process Intensification Award for Industrial Innovation on Air Liquide, Paris, on October 2 during the 10th World Congress of Chemical Engineering in Barcelona, Spain. The French firm won the honor for developing a new reactor design that significantly improves hydrogen production from steam reforming of natural gas.
The reactor, which is made by 3D printing, reuses heat used to produce excess steam and increases the heat transfer between the hot process streams. The improved reactor is expected to decrease operating costs up to 20% and CO2 emissions up to 12% compared to existing technology.
“This reactor is a very interesting example of the use of 3D printing in the manufacture of this new intensified reactor, and has the potential to be a disruptive innovation for industry,” notes the EFCE’s Working Party on Process Intensification, which judged the award.
A laboratory-scale version successfully operated at Air Liquide’s Paris Saclay research center for more than 4,000 hours in 2016. An industrial pilot plant is now under construction and should startup in late 2018.