25 07 2022

The HIGFLY HiGee Reactor

Furfural is the main jet fuel precursor and building block in the HIGFLY concept. Current methods to convert biomass feedstocks into furfural are extremely resource inefficient, costly and energy intensive, yielding less than 50% of the potential value and lead to a complete loss of cellulose and lignin.

To address these challenges, HIGFLY focuses on process intensification through a HiGee reactor design that provides outstanding mass and heat transfer rates and the use of sustainable solvents and solid catalysts that make the valorisation of C5 biorefinery streams to furfural-based jet fuels both cost-effective and sustainable.

The HIGFLY reactor is a high gravity, high shear reactor with enormous potential for process intensification due to higher mass and heat transfer rates over other conventional reactors. Eindhoven University of Technology has a demonstrated expertise in the design, construction and operation of this type of reactor, such as the spinning disc reactor. Their experiments and modelling results show a potential 50-fold decrease in reactor size with an increased yield of up to 90% compared to the technology currently available.

Current methods of furfural synthesis result in the formation of black deposits (humins) in the reactor causing interruptions to the production process. Testing of the HIGFLY concept has shown a significant reduction in the amount of humins which allows for continuous operation and, therefore, a reduction in capital expenditures for the production of furfural and a visible pathway to overcome the major bottle neck in the value chain from C5 biorefinery streams to HIGFLY jet fuels.