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'F3 Factory' : begins the journey into future of production, Arkema
09
Jun '09
Increasing efficiency and flexibility, reducing raw material costs: the factory of the future is more effective, more flexible and, above all, conserves natural resources significantly better than current standards. Today's launch of "F3 Factory", an EU-funded project, marks the beginning of an unprecedented programme for the development of more efficient and sustainable processes in the chemical industry.

For the first time on such a scale, leading European chemical industry companies are crossing competitive boundaries to collaborate both on technologies for process intensification and on production concepts, forming a consortium with research institutes and universities. 25 partners from all over Europe have joined forces for this purpose. The project is scheduled to run for four years and has a volume of approximately 30 million euros, 18 million euros thereof being provided by the EU through its 7th Framework Programme (FP7).

"F3 Factory" stands for: flexible, fast and future factory. The F³ Factory consortium aims to sustainably strengthen the European chemical industry's global technological leadership via faster and more flexible production methods. The goals are to design and develop the modular continuous plant (the F3 plant), to standardize processes and their interfaces and also to demonstrate the capabilities of the F3 Factory with existing products.

The efficiency and scalability of world scale continuous plants are to be combined with the versatility of batch-wise operating plants. For this purpose, holistic strategies for process intensification will be developed, such that raw materials and energies are employed more economically – since the latter represent about 70 to 80 percent of manufacturing costs and therefore usually much more than labour costs.

A further focal point of the F3 Factory is the development of concrete products such as solvent-free polymers, custom-tailored surfactants, high value-added building blocks and intermediates for pharmaceuticals and innovative materials based on renewable materials. A supporting demonstration and development center will be constructed in Chempark Leverkusen, Germany. The building work is scheduled to begin in late 2009/early 2010, with completion expected by the beginning of 2011.

New Trendsetter for the Chemical Industry
All partners met for the F3 Factory launch on 8th June at the Bayer Technology Services headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany. Bayer's technology subgroup will coordinate the EU project throughout its four-year period. "Today we are at the beginning of a trendsetting – and perhaps even revolutionary – cooperation within the European chemical industry, since F3 Factory combines the enormous process know-how of industry and research units in a to date unique consortium across competitors.

And the project proves once more the innovative force of one key sector for the whole of Europe", stated Achim Noack, Managing Director of Bayer Technology Services GmbH, at the beginning of the meeting. And it's not only climate change and the current global economic crisis that necessitate efficiency gains in the feedstock-intensive chemical industry, but also the disproportionately sharp increases in raw material cost of recent years would require such concerted efforts. On the day, the project participants formed smaller working groups to coordinate tasks and to determine responsibilities for the first project phase.

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