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US DoE awards $4 million in funding to Stevens' Center for MicroChemical Systems

HOBOKEN, N.J. -- The US Department of Energy (DoE)Office of Industrial Technologies has awarded a total of $4 million in research grants over the next five years to the New Jersey Center for MicroChemical Systems (NJCMCS) at Stevens Institute of Technology. The funds will be used to demonstrate two novel process-intensification concepts for producing critical chemicals in a cleaner, safer, more cost-effective and energy-efficient manner.

"A unique feature of the Stevens approach is the incorporation of highly engineered catalytic reactor wall via nanostructured thin-film," says Prof. Adeniyi Lawal of the Stevens Department of Chemical, Biomedical and Materials Engineering (CBME), the principal investigator for both projects.

The first project ($1.6 million), the execution of which began in September 2002, involves the design and demonstration of a microchannel reactor system for on-site production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) by controlled reaction between H2 and O2. H2O2 is commercially manufactured at 70wt% concentration; however, most commercial applications use 15wt% concentration. End users have increasingly become interested in the concept of onsite, on-demand H2O2 generation to reduce transportation, storage, and dilution costs.

However, combining H2 and O2 in conventional reactor systems is not feasible at H2 concentrations above 5vol%, as the mixture becomes flammable and even explosive. At low H2 concentrations, very high pressures are required, rendering the process energy inefficient. One approach is onsite direct combination with low-pressure operating conditions, which uses a microchannel reactor.

These reactors possess extremely high surface-to-volume ratios and exhibit enhanced heat and mass transfer rates which enable rapid wall quenching of free radicals that in conventional-size reactors lead to thermal runaway conditions and concomitant explosion. The microchannel reactor thus allows for H2 concentrations above 5vol% w
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Contact: Patrick A. Berzinski
pberzins@stevens-tech.edu
201-216-5687
Stevens Institute of Technology
14-Oct-2003


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