The Dutch company is globally active and major producer of sodium chlorate, used for many applications, e.g. the paper industry. The current production process of chloride requires small amounts of hexavalent Chromium (Cr(VI)) which has several health and environment related concerns. The company is looking for ways to produce chlorate without using Cr(VI). This could include new production approaches. Cooperation would be in the frame of a research- or a technical cooperation agreement.
The Dutch company produces a large range of specialty chemicals and is one of the major producers of sodium chlorate. Sodium chlorate is a stable and safe precursor for chlorine dioxide, used in Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) bleaching of pulp. Bleached pulp is used for the production of paper, cardboard, and many other kinds of cellulose-based materials.
Since its invention, the company has taken a leading role in optimizing the chlorate manufacturing process through their own research and through collaborations with universities and other partners. Despite making significant improvements over the years, even state-of-the-art chlorate manufacturing processes still rely on a key invention dating back to 1897 which is based on an additive of concern. The company wants to take the sustainability of this process to the next level and are looking for new methods which are more energy efficient and free of materials of concern.
Sodium chlorate is produced using electrochemical reactions, generally relying on small amounts of hexavalent Chromium (Cr(VI)) to make the process efficient. Cr(VI) has several roles in the process, for example making the cathode selective to the desired reactions and hindering the reduction of hypochlorite and chlorate, a side reaction that undermines the process. However, Cr(VI) has several health and environment related concerns. Hence, the company is looking for a process to make sodium chlorate without using any Cr(VI).
A combination of solutions may be needed to provide a performance-competitive alternative. Current processes rely on a concentrated, warm and very corrosive electrolyte, so requirements on materials used for equipment are very high. Also, electrical energy accounts for a major part of the cost for an electrolysis process, which puts high demands on energy efficiency.
In general the company’s scope is very broad, but any solution cannot contain materials of concern (like carcinogenic, mutagenic, or reprotoxic chemicals), and it should not result in a process with poor safety performance, poor energy efficiency, or create any major waste streams..
Cooperation with partners would be in the frame of a research- or a technical cooperation agreement .
The following criteria should be considered:
1. Contribution to sustainability, specifically being energy-efficient and involving no compounds of concern
2. Economically viable and covers all aspects of the process design, such as mass and energy balance
3. Fit to the current technologies and markets of the company
4. Impact of the idea in the short term (revenue, quality, scalability, time to market, etc.)
5. Quality and maturity of the team
This technology request is an innovation challenge and is published on an open innovation platform until March 10th 2018. If an organisation does express interest in cooperation with this firm before that date, it will be guided towards this open innovation platform on which one can get in touch via a chat function with the company. Mind that posts on this platform are not confidential.
Beside open discussions on the platform, sharing of confidential information will be made possible on demand. After that, the firm will select the SME's with the most promising solutions for a 3-day collaborative event in which they bring in all relevant experts needed..
Once the challenge is closed, EOI's for this technology request will be treated in the traditional way.
- Type of partner sought: The company envisions two possible avenues to a solution and expertise is sought:
1. A new durable and selective cathode that avoids the unwanted reduction of hypochlorite and chlorate, and at the same time produces the hydroxide required for the process.
2. A novel process for producing sodium chlorate based on e.g. membrane electrolyzers or another means to change the oxidation state of the chlorine atom. The solution provides controlled mass and energy balance that does not jeopardize process economics (caustic supply to the electrolyte is especially important).
- Specific area of activity of the partner: Type of partners: Startups, SME’s and other innovators with new technologies for producing sodium chlorate.
Type of collaboration:
The Dutch multinational wants to work together as equal partners, under shared-IP conditions, this could be in the form of:
- Joint development agreement
- Research agreement
The challenge offers several support awards in the fields of entrepreneurship and/or chemistry.
Available for demonstration - In principle all stages of development, they focus on solutions that can be implemented relatively short-term, but are open also to more long-term ideas.
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