SCF as Green solvents
CO2 can replace organic solvents in many processes. Because it is non-toxic and has limited environmental impact compared to fluorinated, chlorinated or liquid organic solvents (VOC emissions), CO2 is an efficient and cost attractive solution in chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries, especially for extraction of valuable compounds. Extraction from natural compounds using supercritical fluid is a well known technique operated at low temperature to processing thermo-labile compounds, leaves no solvent residues and is also compatible with organic labels.
SCFs are "tunable" solvents. Due to their intermediate properties between gas and liquid, supercritical fluids are also used as reaction media, particularly for hydrogenation, synthesis of pharmaceutical compounds or to controlling oxidation, or as a sterilizing or cleaning media. SEPAREX worked for several customers on chemicals reactions, cleaning and sterilisation and sold related equipment.
This technique can also be adopted to valorize process waste like wood chips, fish wastes, molasses, etc… to extract high-value products like sugars(-oses), polyunsaturated fatty-acids rich oils, waxes, and before their thermal valorization. Process waste treatment using supercritical extraction or fractionation is an alternative to conventional processes, that isn't affected by the increasing price of organic solvents derived from petroleum and is not sensitive to regulatory evolution.
Toxic wastes, like PCBs or radioactive wastes, can also be processed using SuperCritical Water Oxidation or extracted with CO2 from soils or other material to be decontaminated.
Contaminated soils can also be treated with supercritical fluids
CO2 storage and CO2 recovery
SEPAREX expertise in CO2 can be helpful for addressing these two major environment challenges.
CO2 recovery from flue gas is a temporary solution to limit the impact of energy production on global warming. If amine scrubbing is a robust technology, energy consumption consitutes a major drawback. From all the alternative processes, CO2 capture by hydrate formation is one of the most promising routes and SEPAREX is supplying systems to study hydate formation. Interactions between all this compounds at high pressure can be observed using SEPAREX High Pressure Equipment.
Optimizing energy cycles with Supercritical Fluids
The rise of energy costs challenges the centralized power production model to benefit to the small-scale power plants using currently unexploited heat sources like flue gas, waste streams and renewable resources (geothermal, solar, biomass). Organic Rankine Cycles (ORC) are promising units that enable the valorization of heat sources at low temperature (100-350°C) into electricity. Supercritical Organic Rankine Cycles (SURORC) allows increasing significantly energy yield due to smoother temperature profile in heat exchangers leading to less irreversibility and the life-time of the turbines. SEPAREX is proposing its expertise in high pressure process development and can help on many issues like the choice of fluids to fit SURORC units to your heat source and your environment.