In the last decade, air quality, both indoor and outdoor, has become a cause of growing concern due the influx of air pollutants resulting from human and industrial activity. A such, it has become increasingly important to research and discover adsorbents which can serve as a filter, trapping these harmful molecules. Till recently, the effectiveness of adsorbents in real-world conditions have been difficult to prove which is where Avantium sought to utilise its expertise to develop a solution. This adsorption unit is the latest innovative technology Avantium has developed in their aim to utilise chemistry to address some of the most pressing issues of our time.
Utilising its proven expertise in catalytic solutions, Avantium developed a Respiratory Adsorption unit to simultaneously tests the performance of eight adsorbent materials for respiratory adsorption applications. This unit significantly accelerates the testing and development of new adsorbents. Whereas adsorbents are often tested in single-tube set-ups, and require large volumes to sample, Avantium developed this cutting-edge system to allow for the breakthrough measurement of 8 to 16 columns in a parallel manner, shrinking experimental efforts by an order of magnitude. During these tests, a gas stream containing volatile organic components (VOCs) is passed through the adsorbent material and the time it takes for the harmful component to ‘break through’ the adsorbent is measured.
The unit leverages Avantium’s Flowrence Technology, a microfluidics technology developed for parallel catalyst testing, which allows testing of samples of milligram size with the highest accuracy. This minimizes the amount of waste and allows researchers to maximize the use of their precious research samples. Currently these tests are typically executed in a single column with a much larger volume. For maximum flexibility, a gas stream with a very low concentration of VOCs can be generated directly in the system from the pure VOC.
To simulate the various real-world conditions, performance tests are conducted in a climate-controlled environment with a temperature between 20 – 50°C and a relative humidity of 20 – 80%. The flexibility in test conditions takes you as close as you can get to your process conditions.
The unit was a result of an ongoing collaboration between Avantium and IRCELYON, a department of CNRS and Lyon-university. The partnership utilises Avantium’s catalytic technology expertise for the design and development of the unit, and IRCELYON’s research capabilities for catalysts and adsorbent testing and applications. Over the past 3 year, Avantium has successfully designed and developed this unique high-throughput dynamic adsorbent measurement unit, from its head office in Amsterdam. In Q4 2021, the unit was delivered to IRCELYON, based in Lyon, France.
IRCELYON has since been applying the unit on various projects, including the development of adsorbents for the application of Air purification respiratory devices (“MODYTICS”, an ANR/ASTRID funded program). The investment into this project (CPER “SYSPROD”) is part of IRCELYON’s fundamental and applied research to accelerate the discovery and development of new adsorbents that can meet the challenges of gas separation and air purification.
As testing advances, Avantium and IRCELYON will provide further updates on the results and applications of this new technology.