17th November 2013 – F³ Factory training material available online

Over the past four years, numerous results have been elaborated within the F³ Factory project. The scope of F³ Factory was to enhance the competitiveness for European chemical industry. As it has been shown, this can be achieved through flexible, modular continuous plants for low to medium scale production, since these plants are more economical and more sustainable than current production modes.

The F³ factory concept is based on a plug and produce philosophy with an efficient container based approach including intensified, continuous and standardized technologies, with new methodologies for process and equipment design. It takes advantage of process intensification by combining a modular container based approach with the aforementioned plug and produce philosophy to develop a new paradigm for both flexible multi-product production and flexible scale-up by numbering-up for dedicated single-product production.

The elementary building blocks of F³ Factory approach are the Process Equipment Assemblies, PEAs. The PEAs are the smallest modular elements of the process. PEAs may include intensified continuous chemical reactors, downstream equipment, storage units, pumps or combinations of these components. One PEA or several PEAs are associated with one or more tasks in the production process, such as feed, reaction, separation or purification. The PEA building blocks can be easily installed, connected, removed or replaced as required. For instance, the same reactor might be suitable for several reactions systems but each system might require substantially different separation technologies.

The various PEAs are installed in a Process Equipment Container (PEC), a superstructure that contains the PEAs and provides the utilities and services required. The PECs are mobile and easily transportable, and in certain cases, the PECs can be docked to a generic backbone facility.

The backbone facility provides general services to the PEC such as energy, fluids and process control. Whereas the PEAs and their internal intensified process equipment are generally specific to a given production application, the PECs are standard and are designed for the needs of the generic backbone interface. The PECs are characterized by speed and ease of docking and replacement with robust standardized connections to the backbone.

To disseminate outputs from the F³ Factory project, a suite of training material has been developed. It is targeted to chemists and engineers working in process development, who may not be familiar with modular production and process intensification approaches. It should also be of interest for university Masters-Level students. The module is an introduction to the F³ Factory concept of modular and flexible continuous chemical production. It concerns the definition of the F³ Factory concept as a potential opportunity for future competitiveness of the European chemical industry.

The five modules cover:

1) Overview of the F³ Factory project

2) Modular and flexible continuous chemical production concept

3) Business drivers for implementation of modular production technologies

4) Eco-efficiency evaluation of flexible, modular continuous production

5) Conceptual process design methodologies