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Green Processing and Synthesis

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Environmentally optimized microreactor design through Life Cycle Assessment

Eva Zschieschang
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis, D-76021 Karlsruhe, Germany
  • :
/ Peter Pfeifer
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute for Micro Process Engineering, D-76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany
/ Liselotte Schebek
  • Technical University of Darmstadt, Institute IWAR, Petersenstr. 13, 64287 Darmstadt, Germany
Published Online: 2012-08-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/gps-2012-0026


Design decisions made in early R&D of a new technology ultimately determine its future environmental performance. Owing to the awareness of environmental impacts of technologies during their life cycle, the optimization of their design seems fundamental to develop more sustainable technologies. Using the example of a microstructured reactor for gas to liquid fuel conversion in early R&D, the Modular Server-Client-Server methodology for combining technical optimization with parametric Life Cycle Impact Assessment was used to analyze different design and manufacturing options. Two structuring fabrication techniques for metal foils were compared for several microreactor designs with respect to their ecological impact. Furthermore, improvable and non-improvable technical parameters regarding environmental impact, the impact of each fabrication step and within one fabrication step were analyzed. In conclusion, our analyses provide helpful information allowing for environmentally optimized design considerations in early R&D of a microreactor.

Keywords: Life Cycle Assessment; microreactor design; Modular Server-Client-Server methodology; optimization

Eva Zschieschang

Dipl.-Ing. Eva Zschieschang is pursuing her PhD at the Institute of Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany on the development of sustainable applications for energy conversion using microprocess engineering. She performed her diploma thesis in microsystem engineering developing a novel concept for the arrangement and production of PEM fuel cells at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems and the University of Freiburg, Germany.

Peter Pfeifer

Dr.-Ing. Peter Pfeifer studied chemical engineering at University Erlangen-Nürnberg and performed his PhD at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). He became group leader for Gas and Multiphase Catalysis at the Institute for Micro Process Engineering at KIT in 2001. Since 2008 he gives Master courses about Micro Process Engineering at KIT and has already published more than 40 peer reviewed papers.

Liselotte Schebek

Liselotte Schebek is Head of the Department of Technology-Induced Material Flow, Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS-ZTS) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). She holds the chair of Industrial Material Cycles at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geodesy. She studied Chemistry at the Technical University of Darmstadt (Graduation: Dipl.-Ing.) and graduated with a PhD in 1990 at the University of Mainz. Her main research fields are Life Cycle Assessment, Material Flow Analysis, Carbon Flows within the Technosphere, Biobased Products and Energetic Use of Biomass, Material Flows within the Construction Sector, Sectoral and Process-related Analysis of Waste Flows, Scarce Resources and Material Development, Industrial Ecology and Environmental Management Systems.

Corresponding author: Eva Zschieschang, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis, D-76021 Karlsruhe, Germany.

Received: 2012-03-31

Accepted: 2012-06-12

Published Online: 2012-08-25

Published in Print: 2012-08-01

Citation Information: Green Processing and Synthesis. Volume 1, Issue 4, Pages 375–384, ISSN (Online) 2191-9550, ISSN (Print) 2191-9542, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/gps-2012-0026, August 2012

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