The ShaPID Project: Sustainable and Green Technologies for the Chemical Industry

The chemical industry is integral to virtually every industrial value chain. The chemical industry’s products – innovative materials and components – are essential primary products for industrial manufacturing. An early link in the value chain, the chemical sector is a good starting point for boosting products’ sustainability across industries.

The chemical industry has set itself ambitions sustainability goals: defossilizing its production chain and establishing circular, greenhouse gas-neutral material and energy conversion.

In the ShaPID project, nine Fraunhofer Institutes lead managed by Fraunhofer ICT are developing applied methods and technologies for sustainable green chemistry in the four domains of synthesis, reaction and catalysis systems, process equipment and engineering, modeling, simulation and process optimization, and digitalization and automation based on the internationally accepted 12 Principles of Green Chemistry.

© Henry St. John, Adobestock
The idea of a circular economy goes far beyond standard resource recycling: It includes actions that boost resource efficiency. The circular economy greatly influences product portfolios and business models, especially in the chemical industry.

From Green Resources to Green Products

The use of new technologies and methods will be will be piloted in three reference processes that target different chemical product lines:

  1. In Green Plastics, new plastics will be made out of CO2 and biogenic resources.
  2. In Green Monomers, energy-efficient synthesis of monomers from nonfossil resources will be examined.
  3. In Efficient Building Blocks, the use of highly reactive molecules for atomically efficient synthesis will be examined.

All three processes follow the path from green resources to green process management and even green products. Process development will be closely supported by life cycle assessments, system analyses, REACH assessment and predictive (organic) toxicology.

© Vectorfusionart, Adobestock
© Dragica, Adobestock
© Industrieblick, Adobestock

Modularized System Design through Digitalization

Fraunhofer IFF experts are helping design the prototypes. They are developing specific interfaces and utilizing modular system design, especially modular control systems based on the Module Type Package (MTP).

The team is connecting digital simulation models from Fraunhofer ITWM for process monitoring and performance measurement and data analyses. This will expedite the implementation of new green reaction and process equipment in the process environment later on.

© Fraunhofer IFF, Denise Nitsche

The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry

Fraunhofer IFF research scientists use the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry developed by scientists Paul Anastas and John Warner in 1998 as the basis for integrating limit-based indicators for the analysis and assessment of chemical processes. Approaches from LCA and VDI 4663 are employed to integrate recommended actions in process engineering and operation.

  • Prevention

    Chemistry is green when chemical processes produce as little waste as possible. This is better than having to treat or clean up waste.

  • Atom Economy

    Chemistry is green when synthetic methods are designed to maximize incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.

  • Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses

    Chemistry is green when synthetic methods are designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.

  • Designing Safer Chemicals

    Chemistry is green when chemical products are designed to preserve efficacy of function while reducing toxicity.

  • Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries

    Chemistry is green when the use of auxiliary substances (e.g., solvents, separation agents, etc.) is made unnecessary wherever possible and innocuous when used.

  • Design for Energy Efficiency

    Chemistry is green when energy requirements are recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and minimized and synthetic methods are conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.

  • Use of Renewable Feedstocks

    Chemistry is green when a raw material or feedstock is renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practicable.

  • Reduce Derivatives

    Chemistry is green when modifications of molecules are minimized and unnecessary derivatization is minimized because such steps require additional reagents and can generate waste.

  • Catalysis

    Chemistry is green when efficient catalytic reagents are employed.

  • Design for Degradation

    Chemistry is green when chemical products are designed so that at the end of their function they break down into innocuous degradation products and do not persist in the environment.

  • Real-Time Analysis for Pollution Prevention

    Chemistry is green when real-time, in-process monitoring and control of chemical processes prevent the formation of hazardous substances.

  • Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention

    Chemistry is green when Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process are chosen to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires.