Congress Programme

10:30 - 11:00 | Mixing in “World Scale” Plants

The cost benefit of the “Economies of scale” led in some industrial production processes to a more than tenfold increase in reactor volume over the past 35 years. The presentation highlights this trend with the focus on three industrial examples – PET production, pressure oxidizing in the mining industry and fermentation. It gives background information about the current trend and shows industrial examples of the worlds’ largest plants, often referred to as “world scale” plants with their specific characteristics, challenges and mixing and engineering solution.

The biggest challenge process engineer’s face is the design transfer from pilot scale to a volumetrically often 100 – 1000 times larger world scale plant. With increased performance levels, they require more intense operating conditions with extreme pressure and temperature (high or low), corrosive and abrasive process media and higher power input by rotating equipment.

To realize such world-scale plants on a safety level in process and mechanical terms, an interdisciplinary team is required including chemists, process, mechanical and plant engineers. They use advanced experimental methods together with numerical tools such as CFD – (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and FEM- (Finite Element Method) simulations.

Terephthalic Acid production

The oxidation reactor for terephthalic acid is one of the largest agitated reactors ever in the chemical industry. In the last twenty years, its capacity has quadrupled; one agitator vessel now produces up to 1.65 million tons of terephthalic acid a year.

The reaction heat of 375 MW is withdrawn by evaporation of approximately 1,300 t/h of solvent resulting in void velocities of more than 0.5 m/s. Modern types of agitators are necessary to handle those high gas loads.

Pressure Oxidizing in the Mining Industry

The trend of increasing reactor volumes is also seen in the mining industry with the application of horizontal autoclaves. The most significant technique to continuously oxidize gold ores is the POX (Pressure OXidation) autoclave process. In the recent years, these plants have rapidly increased in size, the volume and hence the capacity per autoclave has increased more than tenfold with enormous challenge of the mechanical issues.


In fermentation, microorganisms, animal and plant cells are used to produce chemical compounds. Enzymes, pharmaceutical ingredients, amino acids or vitamins, as well as various monomers are manufactured on the basis of renewable resources as metabolic products. Many of these manufacturing processes run very efficiently in stirred fermenters. The development of new processes always requires a safe scale-up from laboratory to production scale. Today, fermenters in “World-Scale” plants reach sizes of several hundred cubic meters, for low-viscosity processes based on bacteria, up to approx. 800 m³. However, fermenter sizes of considerably more than 1,000 m³ are being examined in feasibility studies.

Speaker: Wolfgang Keller (EKATO RMT)

Additive manufacturing is the process of applying material layer by layer to produce an object. This process is also popularly known as 3D printing. There are now numerous processes available that can be used to print metals, plastics, or even ceramics, for example. Most of these processes have been used successfully in prototype construction for years. The question now arises to what extent these processes can be used to manufacture products in an industrial environment, for example in mixing technology. Here this type of production process opens up new design options, but also new questions, e.g. regarding the certification of these components.


There are already many examples that have been researched for printing complete pressure vessels or rotating devices such as impellers. In addition to optimized mechanical properties of a printed component, parts with optimized flow behaviour can also be manufactured. This means that impellers or agitators can be further optimized in the future, thus increasing efficiency. Another important aspect is the possible component size. Nowadays, depending on the applied process, this is no longer a limitation, but rather an important criterion for the choice of the manufacturing method.

Speaker: Jan Gassenschmidt (EKATO RMT)

Current commercial photochemistry i.e. chlorinations, polymerizations and redox reactions in agitated batch reactors is a niche technology. Compared to classical industrial reaction technology almost no representative pilot reactors in technical scale are known, creating a barrier for a guided scale-up. The high interdisciplinary complexity of photo physics, chemistry, mechanical and process engineering further increases the barrier for the development of scale-up rules and rational design, which build the fundament for the design of efficient and modern photoreactors.


To accelerate commercial deployment, EKATO & Peschl UV have developed photo pilot units to establish a scale-up basis for the design of application specific and cost-efficient commercial photoreactors which are equipped with modern light sources such as LEDs. This paper presents two photo pilot units, the 50 liter photo-ELA50 pilot and the 9 liter modular photochemical development system (MPDS), with a focus on data acquisition and the systematic investigation of possible process limitations for example mass and photon transfer.


The piloting work paves the way for the safe and reliable scale-up of photoreactors with sizes of up to 50 m³. With the ability to reduce the risk of the critical scale-up procedure, photochemistry can be a powerful tool and replace environmentally problematic synthesis routes i.e. solvent-based polymerization processes for the production of viscous adhesives using UV-light alone.


In that context we present selected application specific photoreactors which are applied in modern photochemical commercial production.

Speaker: Dr. Konstantin Epp (EKATO RMT)

Plastics have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Plastic products make many things easier, but they can also endanger our health and flood our planet with waste. Therefore, solutions must be established for the sustainable handling of used plastics. Various options are currently being pursued for this purpose. In addition to the use of bio-based and biodegradable plastics, the recycling and reuse of plastics is becoming increasingly important. The field of recycling methods is enormous. In addition to the mechanical recycling and the well-known energy-intensive thermal processes, intensive work has been carried out on energy-saving catalytic and solvolytic methods in recent years. Main problems with most recycling processes are the product properties that change during the process, such as viscosity, toughness and other changes in state. These applications can therefore pose a challenge to traditional mixing technology.


Cooperating closely with its customers, EKATO has been able to find solutions to many of these requirements. Production plants with a volume of several cubic meters have already been implemented and further scale-up steps will be realized in the next years. For example, solutions were developed for high-temperature applications up to 750 °C in pyrolysis as well as optimized agitator designs for considerably changing viscosities in solvolysis.


These two examples as well as further optimizations of the mixing technology with regard to the chemical recycling of plastics will be explained in the lecture.

Speaker: Andreas Enz (EKATO RMT)

11:00 - 11:30 | Machine Learning Assisted Condition Monitoring for Ind

Machine Learning Assisted Condition Monitoring for Industrial Agitators

Speaker: Dennis Lindgens (EKATO RMT)

10:00 - 10:30 | Engineering Materials in Mixing Technology

In process plants, rotating equipment and piping components are subject to wear, especially when the process media contains solids. Apart from bulk solids, it is primarily suspensions that lead to wear on mechanical devices, pumps, piping or valves. This presentation will pay particular attention to the wear in vessels that naturally occurs at impellers operated at elevated tip speeds or in-tank bearings. Such conditions are found particularly in hydrometallurgical leaching processes, in crystallizers or in the production of formulated products using fillers such as finely dispersed silica, lime or pigments.

However, it is possible to maximize the lifetime of agitator components by implementing appropriate measures regarding their shape, the material of construction or a combination of the above. Therefore, a wide range of engineering materials can be used, such as well-known hardface coatings or more special solid ceramic materials for impeller blades or diamond bearings for high temperature applications and highly abrasive environments.


The use of high-performance ceramics or diamond materials is not only worthwhile where components wear out very quickly and plant shutdowns cause high costs, but their use is equally attractive when metallic attrition or dissolved metal ions due to corrosion are not permitted. A typical example is high-purity and fine-grained silica, which is used in the electronics industry.


This presentation will provide an insight into the topic using many examples.

Speaker: Gabriel Bosch (EKATO RMT)

When it comes to energy savings in agitated processes the first thought commonly goes to higher sophisticated impellers.

In fact, even better results can be achieved by applying an optimized set up of mixer, vessel geometry and vessel internals as well as adequate requirements of the mixing task(s).


The presentation will show examples of how a global design approach can help to save energy without compromising the productivity and product quality utilizing graphs, pictures and CFDs.

Speaker: Sven Hanselmann (EKATO RMT)

10:30 - 11:00 | Scale-up and Design of Gassed, Stirred Fermenters for

There are various new fermentation processes capable of converting CO2 and H2 into methane or proteins, also known as power-to-gas and power-to-protein processes. CO2 is gained from CO2 rich gas streams (e.g. biogas) and H2 is obtained through electrodialysis using excess renewable energy.


Gassed, stirred fermenters are well suited for these processes and many scale-up strategies and challenges are identical to those known from traditional aerobic fermenters. However, the almost complete utilization of the gas components and the very poor solubility of hydrogen in the fermentation broth represent new challenges that must be considered when designing the fermenter and agitator system. Many of these processes are still being developed on a laboratory and pilot scale with only few processes already operating in smaller production scale. Further increasing the fermenter volume can help benefit from economies of scale. This presentation covers challenges for the scale-up of such fermenters and possible solutions. Apart from the geometric design of the fermenter, the proper agitation technology plays a crucial role in process optimization as the scale increases.

Speaker: Annika Schorn (EKATO RMT)

Hydrometallurgical processing of lithium has become increasingly important as production needs to keep pace with growing global demand and increased product quality requirements. The main driver of the growing demand for lithium compounds is the battery market. The production of purified lithium carbonate is a good example of how production equipment and technology must keep up with changing tasks and increasing complexity.


One possible way to process battery grade lithium carbonate is the carbonization – decomposition method, where especially crystallization, carbonization and the decomposition units become crucial for the overall plant performance. As with many other hydrometallurgical processes mixing is an important unit operation.


This paper presents an improved draft tube impeller with a significantly higher efficiency compared to standard solutions. At the same motor power, higher pumping rates, better slurry homogeneity and improved surface renewal are achieved, ultimately leading to more uniform crystal growth. Due to the optimized blade geometry, local and overall shear rates are reduced, minimizing crystal breakage and reducing abrasion issues. Another specialized type of impeller presented focuses on gassed applications, which is primarily used when a very high degree of gas utilization must be achieved. These so-called self-inducing gassing turbines are successfully implemented by EKATO in many applications. These gassing turbines recirculate unreacted gas from the head space to achieve very high gas utilization rates and fully reuse the carbon dioxide recycled from the down-stream decomposition units in a closed loop system. At the same time, the high local power input at the impeller blades ensures a very high degree of gas dispersion and accelerates the gas-liquid mass transfer, which otherwise would be limiting the carbonization reaction.

Speaker: Wolfgang Keller (EKATO RMT)