Five innovative technologies have been selected as finalists for the 2021 Kirkpatrick Award for Chemical Engineering Achievement.* The finalists were selected based on three criteria: the difficulty of chemical engineering problems met and solved; novelty of the technology; and evidence of commercial success. The winner of the award will be announced later this year. Here is a brief summary of the finalists:
BQE Water — Selen-IX Technology. BQE Water developed the Selen-IX technology to remove selenite from wastewater in response to environmental concerns associated with selenium. Selenate is the most prevalent form of selenium in wastewater. The novelty of the process technology is the unique integration of ion exchange and electro-reduction. Using this technology, selenate is removed from the wastewater and fixed into stable non-toxic solids. After three pilot tests for different mining projects, the first full-scale plant was commissioned in 2020, and two more plants are currently under construction.
Dow Industrial Intermediates & Infrastructure — Syntegra Solvent-Free Polyurethane Dispersion. Syntegra is a solvent-free polyurethane dispersion (PUD) developed by Dow for the production of artificial leather. A significant advantage of Syntegra is that it eliminates the use of hazardous solvents in the production of artificial leather. Dow is able to produce Syntegra in a continuous process rather than batchwise, which improves consistency in the product. Syntegra was commercially launched in 2020, and there is indication that this product can also help with CO 2 reduction goals.
Dow Deutschland — Walocel Cellulose-Ether Product. Cellulose ethers are used in dry-mortar cementitious tile adhesives in order to ensure the water retention that is needed to bond the tile and substrate. The water retention efficiency improves with the polymer’s molecular weight. Walocel is a cellulose ether obtained by long-chain branching, and thereby reduces dosage reduction in mortars by up to 25%. Development of the production process involved significant studies of key reaction-engineering variables and the design and installation of some tailor-made systems. The product is said to be the first commercial-scale cellulose ether of its kind.
Haldor Topsoe — Hydrotreating Catalyst TK-6001 HySwell. TK-6001 HySwell is an alumina-supported NiMo hydrotreating catalyst. NiMo catalysts are in demand for ultra-low-sulfur diesel and hydrocracker pretreatment. Until now, unsupported catalysts have been the only type that could meet the high activity needed for these applications. Topsoe has developed catalyst preparation techniques to produce a stable, supported catalyst that can be regenerated. HySwell was launched in 2019 with reported excellent performance.
Sapphire — FreeSpin Turboexpander Generator. Sapphire Technologies, a subsidiary of Calnetix Technologies, has developed an axial flow-through, magnetic bearing, turboexpander generator for pressure-reduction energy recovery. The FreeSpin In-line Turboexpander (FIT) generator recovers high-pressure energy at pressure reduction stations and converts it into electricity. A first installation in Italy in 2019 was followed by two additional installations early this year in Japan. It is expected that FIT can play a key role in maximizing the efficiency of gas energy consumption and reducing CO2 emissions. ■
Dorothy Lozowski, Editorial Director
* For more about the Kirkpatrick Award, see www.chemengonline.com/kirkpatrick-award/