Direct Air Capture (DAC) and high-throughput

testing using small adsorption columns

Applying and developing adsorbents for Direct Air Capture involves studying the influence of the parameters like adsorption/desorption kinetics, temperature, relative humidity and hydrodynamics. Studying these effects in real-time is much easier using high-throughput equipment.


Fig. 1 : Adsorption was carried out isothermally, desorption was  carried out using temperature swing at a controlled ramp rate


Figure 1 shows the effluent concentration of three adsorption columns tested in parallel, together with an empty column across three adsorption and three desorption cycles. Momentarily, Avantium studies these types of applications using 8 columns, however scaling to 16 or even 32 is possible. The great advantage of this new equipment is that breakthrough curves are measured on-line and no need to wait for the analysis. Because all equipment is completely automated, it is easy to change process parameters automatically. In this way a unit may operate 24/7 to measure adsorption/desorption cycles during different process conditions.



Scaling-down is performed by keeping the ratio of column diameter to particle diameter constant. This is only valid as long as the internal mass transfer is not influenced by the decreasing particle diameter. However, after crushing the particle, the pressure drop over the small particles increases considerably depending of the fluid viscosity and/or bed height. Besides external mass-transfer rates depend greatly on the hydrodynamic flow near the pellets. Several CFD models have shown the large influence of packing and particle shape on the hydrodynamics. To decouple hydrodynamics from the adsorption kinetics, high-throughput testing in single column single particle tube is the answer. Using high-throughput means that a lot of different process conditions can be tested, resulting in a very accurate kinetic adsorption model. The pellet used in our high-throughput equipment is comparable with the industrial scaled column, this also means that the porosity, the average linear velocity and the throughput can be kept constant. Besides it is possible to test different hydrodynamic conditions by changing the residence time, the variance and other parameters of the flow distribution. Especially the variance is important as this is influenced by dead-zones and recirculation flows.

To compensate for this effect the adsorption column can be filled with both the adsorbent and smaller – inert – beads. As Avantium uses 4 to 8 columns per unit the influence of a changing variance on the mass-transfer and thus the adsorption kinetics can be investigated. Scaling single-pellet single-tube columns to industrial size is possible. Using 8 columns gives the possibility to measure the needed parameters for the geometrical, kinetic, thermal and mass-transfer region. High-throughput testing using small adsorption columns can deliver the needed parameters to model your full scale adsorption unit for the separation or purification of today’s challenges like CO2 capture, VOC removal, isomer separation etc.   This powerful technology, combining multiple-parallel, small-scale columns, with fast & online analytics and automated operation will enable a significant acceleration in the development of new adsorbents and processes, in comparison current industry practice.

Single-Pellet-String-Reactors (SPSR)

No dead-zones, no bed packing & distribution effects. The catalyst packing is straightforward and does not require special procedures. A single string of catalyst particles is loaded in the reactors with an internal diameter (ID) that closely matches the particle average diameter. This applies to single catalyst systems, as well as stacked-bed systems. The use of a narrow reactor avoids any maldistribution of gas and liquid over the catalyst bed, thereby eliminating catalyst-bed channeling and incomplete wetting of the catalyst.

The most accurate and stable pressure regulator for 16-parallel reactors

The most accurate and stable pressure regulator for a multi-parallel reactors with just ±0.1bar RSD at reference conditions. The Reactor Pressure Controller (RPC) uses microfluidics technology to individually regulate the back-pressure of each reactor. By measuring the inlet pressure of each reactor, the RPC maintains a constant inlet pressure by regulating the backpressure. As a result, the distribution of the inlet flows over the 16 reactors is unaffected and a low reactor-to-reactor flow variability is achieved.

Reactor pressure control is not only important to ensure accurate pressure control, but also to help maintaining equal distribution of the inlet flow over the 16 reactors.

Automated liquid sampling system

Programmable, fully automated liquid product sampling robot for 24/7 hands-off operation. Robot equipped with a compact manifold aiming at depressurizing the effluent immediately after each reactor to atmospheric pressure. Reactor effluent is depressurized by a miniaturized (low volume) parallel dome regulator, allowing a stable control of gas or gas/liquid product streams. This eliminates the use of valves at high pressure (such as multi-position valves), which are prone to leakage.

Gas liquid separation is sone directly by collecting the liquid products in sample vials and directing the gas products to the online gas analyzer. This approach minimizes required flushing times in the downstream section of the reactor eliminating the need for high pressure gas-liquid separators, level sensors, and drain valves.

EasyLoad® reactor closing system

Unique reactor closing system, no connections required. With a rapid reactor replacement minimizing delays, improving uptime and reliability. Sealing of up to 16 reactors by simply closing the ‘top-box’ in a single action. No leak testing required!

Stable evaporation by liquid injection into reactor

The direct injection of liquid into the top of the reactor and the consecutive conditioning zone allows feeding of broad range of liquids and concentrations. Various types of liquids, both aqueous and oil phase are successfully evaporated and fed to the reactors.

Tube-in-tube reactor technology with effluent dilution

This unique tube-in-tube feature allows an easy and rapid exchange of the reactor tubes (within minutes!) with a single o-ring at the top of the reactor without the need for any connections. The use of an inert diluent gas (outside of reactor) to maintain the pressure stops undesirable reactions immediately after the catalyst bed while serving as a carrier gas to the GC, facilitating the analysis of high boiling point components, preventing dead volumes and back flow, and reducing the time required to transfer gas and liquid effluent products to the analytical instruments.

The tube-in-tube design enables the use of quartz reactors at high pressure applications.

Compact TinyPressure module glass-chip holder with integrated pressure measurement

Holds the microfluidic glass-chips for gas distribution and measures inlet (and outlet) pressure of the 16 parallel reactors at ambient temperature, allowing online measurement of catalyst bed pressure drop.

No high-temperature pressure sensors required. Pressure range of 10 – 200 bar (high pressure) or 0.5 – 10 bar (low pressure).

The modular design enables easy calibration and quick exchange of the microfluidic glass-chip, without the need for time-consuming leak testing.

Microfluidics modular gas distribution

Unrivalled accuracy in gas distribution with patented glass-chips for 4 and 16 reactors, tested with a guaranteed flow distribution of 0.5% RSD channel-to-channel variability. Quick exchange for different operating conditions, offering the unique flexibility to cover a wide range of applications using the same reactor system.

Auto-calibrating liquid feed distribution, measurement, and control

The most accurate liquid distribution for high throughput systems with real-time liquid flow measurement and control for 16-parallel reactors. Auto-calibrating function enabled by a single flow sensor guarantees that all 16 reactors are continuously operated at the desired LHSV, all the time. Innovative design based on our microfluidic glass-chips with integrated temperature-control. The system continuously regulates the liquid distribution to all 16 reactors, and together with our Reactor Pressure Control technology, eliminates the impacts of pressure variations in the flow distribution.

Proven technology with difficult feedstocks with high viscosity, such as VGO, HVGO and DAO: no blockage and or breakage observed. Different glass-chips available for different viscosities.

Liquid distribution errors below 0.2% RSD, making it the most accurate parallel liquid flow distribution device on the market.

Option to selectively isolate the liquid flow to any of the 16-parallel reactors.


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