Rational Reactor Design for Enhanced Efficiency in the European Speciality Chemicals Industry

About the Project

Rational Reactor Design for Enhanced Efficiency in the European Speciality Chemicals Industry (RRD4E2) is a project funded by the European Union within the FP7 framework Marie-Curie Action: "Initial Training Networks" - European Industrial Doctorates (EID). The project involves two partners, which are Lonza Ltd and the Institute of Chemical Reaction Engineering (CRT) within the Chemical and Bioengineering Department (CBI) at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU). CRT covers a broad spectrum of aspects of chemical reaction engineering with a strong emphasis on the development of novel concepts for industrial chemical processes. The scope of the institute is to develop catalyst systems, increase productivity and selectivity, and reduce costs and ecological impact. There are two research groups from CRT that take part in the RRD4E2 project: "Complex Catalyst Systems and Continuous Processes" led by Prof. Peter Wasserscheid and "Catalytic Reactors and Process Technology" under the supervision of Prof. Hannsjörg Freund.
The industrial partner, Lonza Ltd, is a leading Swiss company, supplying to the pharmaceutical, biotech and specialty ingredients markets. It has a broad portfolio of products, ranging from basic chemicals to cell cultures. Throughout the company, Lonza uses advanced production technologies in order to intensify and increase the sustainability of its processes.
Within this EID program, three early-stage researchers focus on industrially relevant processes of Lonza which have been selected for closer investigation. The main research and teaching activities take place at CRT, Erlangen, whereas the reaction systems are tested at the Research & Development and production site of Lonza in Visp, Switzerland. The key objectives are to train early-stage researchers in an interdisciplinary manner, develop novel engineering concepts for rational reactor design and adapt these concepts to the needs of European's specialty chemical industry.

Research Methodology

The industrial production processes are often improved based on practical experience. Most of the time, these processes are not fully explored regarding their optimization potential in a rigorous manner. Moreover, the reactor concept is often not adapted to the actual requirements of an efficient chemical reaction system, which thus still holds potential to increase the activity, selectivity and space-time yield. Therefore, the aim is to implement our findings in rational reactor design and modelling into industrial practice. To do so, our approach by closely linking dedicated experiments with advanced modelling and simulation is the following:


Figure 1. Lab-scale experimental set-up to perform kinetic measurements
Figure 2. Molecular modeling as a tool to investigate the hydrogen abstraction pathway (movie image)

About the Early-Stage Researchers

Emanuele Moioli: "I studied Chemical Engineering at Politecnico di Milano, obtaining my Bachelor's Degree in 2012 and Master's degree in 2014. In the meantime, I also received a Master's degree in the same field at Politecnico di Torino and the final diploma at Alta Scuola Politecnica (Milan and Turin). I am now doing my PhD in chemical process development at the research group of Catalytic Reactors and Process Technology at CRT, Erlangen. In my project, I am dealing with the optimization of a liquid phase condensation reaction for the production of pyridine derivatives. In cooperation with Lonza, the EID program allows me to experience many places and to develop my European citizen's attitude."
Gizem Zorludemir: "After completing Bachelor's degrees in Chemical & Biological Engineering and Molecular Biology & Genetics at Koç University, Turkey, I pursued a Master's degree in Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology at EPFL, Switzerland. Right now I am a part of Catalytic Reactors and Process Technology research group at the CRT. In my PhD project, I am working on optimization of a pyrolytic process which takes place in the gas phase at elevated temperature. I use molecular modeling tools to gain a more detailed understanding of the reaction and to optimize the reaction and separation processes. This project is really exciting for me because I work both at the academic and industrial environment, and meet researchers coming from different scientific and cultural backgrounds.

Our Motivation

The EID programme includes people from many different countries and it is at the interface between academia and industry. We have brought together different experiences, languages and cultures. This diversity is the boost for the project! People coming from different backgrounds can exchange a variety of knowledge and find innovative solutions.


As a part of the project, we have the opportunity to improve our management and communication skills via training courses as well as seminars including PhD students from other universities. In the engineering field, we also have the chance to take courses related to our research project such as "Structured Catalysts and Reactors", "Multi-Variable Data Analysis" and "Design of Experiments".

Conference Contributions