Delft University of Technology PhD candidate Maaike Kroon has developed a sustainable and inexpensive production method for the chemical industry. This method combines reactions and separation processes, does not produce chemical waste and uses much less energy. After just two years of PhD research, she will receive her doctorate degree based on this research subject on December 11. Maaike Kroon (25) is regarded as an exceptionally talented young researcher.
Maaike Kroon has developed a sustainable production method for the chemical industry that combines reaction and separation processes. She used this new method in trial experiments to reproduce a (already existing) medicine for Parkinson's disease. In doing so, no chemical waste was produced nor harmful solvents used, and the process required 75 percent less energy than is normally used. Moreover, not only is the end product extremely pure, but Kroon's method is also faster and less expensive. If used for this specific medicine, her production method would result in possible savings of 11 million euro per year.
The method combines so-called ionic liquids and separation with supercritical carbon dioxide. Using this combination was Kroon's idea, which Delft University of Technology has since patented.
The raw materials for the medicine are dissolved in ionic liquid. Ionic liquids are fluid salts that serve as clean solvents. Carbon dioxide is added to this liquid under high pressure. The high pressure propels the CO2 gas to the so-called supercritical phase, during which it assumes the properties of both a gas and a liquid. This causes everything present to fully mix in a homogenous phase. The resulting reactions occur much more quickly than during the reaction processes currently used. A further advantage of Kroon's method is that all the raw materials are transposed into the end product without containing any by-products. The separation process occurs after the reaction. For th
Contact: Frank Nuijens
Delft University of Technology