Process Intensification

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientific

7 Citations (Scopus)


A few decades ago a general feeling developed that the discipline of chemical engineering was reaching maturity. New breakthrough-type developments should not be expected anymore and it would be sufficient to be open to new branches that might prove to be useful such as life sciences and new functional materials. However, this static picture has changed profoundly. Considering the world with its increasing need for space due to the desire of increased safety, a healthier environment, and a higher standard of living, the footprint of every industrial sector has to be critically assessed. A parallel might be drawn between the chemical industry and other major production sectors such as the agricultural sector, the automotive industry, and the computer production industry. In all these sectors, the production has been strongly increased without proportionally increasing their footprint. Thus, the normal situation is that upon reaching a certain maturity an industrial sector has to drastically reduce its impact (Stankiewicz and Moulijn, 2000). Also in the chemical industry real progress has been realized: although the production volumes have increased dramatically, the space used only modestly increased. However, we might go a step further. Imagine that we could give back to the society 50% of the space we currently use. Because many petrochemical complexes lie in areas of high natural value, this would be fantastic. Think of the industrial complexes built in harbor areas, part of estuaries. Should these complexes shrink, sea life and tourism would benefit enormously. For drastic changes in this direction, a revolutionary approach is called for. We believe that a transformation of the chemical industrial sector into one with a lower footprint is possible. The timing for disruptive breakthroughs is right.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Sustainable Technologies - Volume 3
EditorsV Strezov, J Zoeller, M Abraham
ISBN (Print)978-012804677-7
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameReference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences
PublisherElsevier Inc.


  • Chemical engineering
  • Microreactors
  • Multifunctional reactors
  • Process intensification
  • Reactive separations
  • Structured catalytic reactors

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