Catalysis is a frequently used method to conduct chemical reactions. However, the existing catalyst beds often don't constitute efficient reaction environments, given heat transfer and pressure differences. Through its innovative 3DFD-technology, VITO creates catalyst beds structured in 3D and made of metal or ceramics, which provide a custom-made environment for every catalysis process.
Catalysis is a key part of sustainable chemistry. With it, we can speed up certain chemical reactions which, under normal circumstances, take a very long time, require a lot of energy, or don't occur at all. The catalyst speeds up the interaction between molecules and can be recovered afterwards. At the moment, the catalyst is compressed or applied on a carrier medium (a 'bed') Because the shape and composition of this catalyst carrier are decisive for mass and heat transport, along with pressure and contact time in catalyst reactions, VITO is looking for a way to create carriers with an optimal shape and resolve the issues with heat loss and pressure differences at the same time.
Based on a procedure to create bone implants, VITO developed the 3DFD-technology, short for three-dimensional filament deposition technology. 3DFD allows an optimal reaction environment to be printed for each catalyst process, consisting of thin filaments made of metal or ceramics. By creating a smart design for the porous carrier material, the pressure drop, mass and heat transport properties can be optimised for each reaction. VITO also possesses the required knowledge and equipment to apply the active material onto the carrier.
The 3DFD-technology combines VITO's expertise regarding sustainable energy and use of materials. Increasing the efficiency of the procedure is done by altering the nature and design of the catalyst carrier. Right now, two doctoral studies are being undertaken at VITO. Their focus is on, respectively, the catalysis from methanol to olefin, and the catalysis from carbon dioxide to useful chemicals and new fuel sources. To demonstrate this technique, VITO collaborated with several industrial partners.