The CSIRO has opened its FloWorks Centre for Industrial Flow Chemistry in the presence of Australia's Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel and representatives from a number of small and medium business partners.
Located in the heart of the Australian Manufacturing and Materials Precinct in Clayton, Victoria, FloWorks provides cutting edge research into flow chemistry capability, making it more accessible to the chemical manufacturing industry and solving challenges associated with developing Australia's future industries and jobs.
At the opening, Dr Finkel highlighted the role of the FloWorks Centre in supporting emerging renewable hydrogen technology development.
"One of our greatest challenges is to move to a decarbonised economy, and hydrogen has the potential to play an important role in this transition," he said.
"Maximising the efficiency in both production and use of hydrogen is crucially important. Improvements depend largely on the efficiency of the catalysis. Flow chemistry could be used to improve efficiency, and FloWorks has developed its own catalysis processes in pursuit of this goal."
Generally speaking, flow chemistry is a form of chemical manufacturing that is cleaner, smarter and more efficient. The benefits of using the flow process include reduced reaction times and plant space, which equate to less energy cost, more efficient processes, reduced waste and a much safer environment.
The smaller setup used in flow chemistry reduces barriers to entry for small and medium businesses in what would otherwise be capital-intensive industries.
This message was reiterated by CSIRO Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley, who in opening the centre said: “Flow chemistry offers a cleaner, smarter and more efficient way of making chemicals. It results in reduced reaction times and plant space, more energy and resource efficient processes, reduced waste, and a much safer environment. And the ability to enable reactions at scale that just don’t work in normal batch processes.”
“This all sounds like it is too good to be true: controlled polymerisation and catalysis production that can scale x10 cheaper has high yield, is safer with has less waste.
“But it is the classic research of the overnight success that is more than 10 years in the making. This is a beautiful story of CSIRO at its best and another example of how CSIRO operates,” said Dr Foley.