The objective is the development of processes which integrate catalytic reaction systems and separation technologies, in order to improve a process overall efficiency and to minimize its investment or operational costs. In the case of systems operating in gas-phase, selective membranes are studied to purify gas currents or to selectively feed oxygen from air.
The development of micro-structured systems is also studied. For instance, to intensify hydrogen production processes by enhancing the heat transfer which allows reducing the size of the installations.
In the other hand, many liquid-phase catalytic reactions involve dehydration reactions which are limited by thermodynamic equilibrium. To overcome this obstacle the use of selective membranes or reactive distillation processes are studied, which take advantage of the difference in relative volatilities between reactants and products. Therefore the progress of the reaction is enhanced towards higher conversions than the ones determined by the thermodynamic equilibrium at the reaction temperature.
The other technologies studied consists of a stirred catalytic reactor with the catalyst on suspension and simultaneous desorption of the most volatile products by stripping with an inert gas. Such processes may be very useful if a rapid degradation of the desired product takes place due to many possible secondary reactions which would diminish the process yield and cause operational problems.