NGP²kister scheithauer gross (ksg) architekten und stadtplaner GmbH
The new research building “Next Generation Processes and Products NGP2” constitutes a new competence center for process engineering in Aachen which will integrate the expertizes of the chairs of the Aachen Chemical Engineering (AVT) and their regional partners. The research activities of the AVT especially focus on innovative and sustainable process concepts for a value-adding use of renewable raw materials.
NGP2 – the AVT new home
Since 2017, the chairs of the AVT are getting closer together - even physically. The “Center for Next Generation Processes and Products (NGP2) in the enlargement area “Campus Melaten” now serves as a new research building of the AVT. The NGP2 building unites the chairs of the AVT which were located all over the city before.
The building is constructed for the special needs of the AVT and offers best conditions for an excellent research in the field of chemical engineering for new and innovative processes on an effective area of about 700 m2. The heart of the building is the 680 m2 Technical Center for research on Biorefinery Processes. The spatial conditions are certainly outstanding. The three-storey airspace of the Technical Center for example offers space for distillation columns on a pilot scale. Explosion-proof work areas enable the operation of facilities with a significant number of solvents and also fermentations with genetically engineered microorganisms up to a scale of 150 liters can be realized in the S1 area of the Technical Center.
NGP2 as research concept
But NGP2 is way more than just a physical location for excellent research: It is at the same time the title of the research program of the AVT that strives for solutions for basic scientific questions about the exploitation of renewable carbon sources and sources of raw material to make an important contribution to bioeconomy.
The main approach is to realize regional substantial and if possible climate-neutral value chains as an alternative to primary petro-chemical characterized industry processes. This change from fossil carbon sources to regrowing raw materials based on biomass can be understood as revolutionary from a procedural point of view because it requires the adaption of established process solutions to the requirements resulting from the value-adding use of these new raw materials.
Raw materials based on biomass first need to be opened up (which consumes a lot of energy) and then separated for being processed. This first step is already a huge challenge for the processing of biomass since it is influencing all subsequent steps as well as the formation of by-products. Because of the high selectivity with altering quality the conversion of materials itself is done biocatalytically with the aid of microorganisms and isolated enzymes. While many concepts for pumping and material conversion are already investigated and established on a laboratory scale, there is a lack of knowledge and experience regarding the scalability to a technical scale. One research goal of NGP2 is to close this gap.
The vision of AVT for NGP2
Addressing these complex and challenging questions requires a strong network of partners with various expertises who work together in an interdisciplinary team on next generation products and processes.
The AVT is already involved in many local and regional research groups: The excellence cluster “Tailor-Made Fuels from Biomass (TMFB)” addresses an important aspect of bio economy with fuels based on biomass. The “Bioeconomy Science Center (BioSC)” obtains a unique and supra-regional connection between process engineering and chemistry at the RWTH Aachen, plant science (Jülich Research Center, HHU Düsseldorf, University of Bonn) and biotechnology (Jülich Research Center, RWTH Aachen). The DWI – Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials – offers cooperation for tailor-made, functional products. Furthermore, the profile sectors “Energy, Chemical and Process Engineering (ECPE)” and “Molecular science and Engineering (MSE)” of the RWTH support the interdisciplinary cooperation of the institutes in Aachen. The “Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA)” extends this cooperation to the location Jülich with its well-known research center.