The Catalysis Insider

We are pleased to present to you Avantium’s first Catalysis Insider. A few times per year we would like to provide you with a brief overview of what’s new with Avantium, share insights and experiences in the field of high-throughput catalysis research and keep you informed of our ever expanding capabilities and expertise. We have chosen to use a web based newsletter with short introductions and links for each section so you can easily click to those items that interest you most. I hope you will find our newsletter informative and a good way of keeping in touch. If you have any suggestions to make Catalysis Insider more valuable, do please let us know.


Steven Olivier
Managing Director


How to get even more value out of your Flowrence?

In Avantium we are focused on continuously improving our Flowrence platform to maximize precision and uptime. To this aim we have developed unique, Avantium designed modules, tailored for the needs in high-throughput experimentation. We now also want to make these improvements available for existing Flowrence users.

In this article the following upgrade possibilities are presented:

  • Microfluidic distributor chips
  • Active Liquid Distribution
  • Reactor Pressure Control

The added value you will receive as a user is clearly highlighted for each upgrade option. For more information, please contact us to discuss your particular situation and possibilities.

Increasing your data quality and uptime with our microfluidic distributor chips

Gas and liquid feeds, can be efficiently distributed using our microfluidic distributor chips. This technology provides a very narrow distribution of feeds to the parallel reactors. Various types of chips are available to be able to cover a wide range of flow rates and feed properties. Each chip is manufactured according to strict specifications to guarantee the quality of the distribution. The replacement of the chips can be done in minutes, offering much more operational flexibility while still using the same reactor system. Compared to historical hand-cut-capillary based distribution systems, this new technology reduces maintenance efforts and ultimately increases your uptime significantly, while providing more consistent data.

Reach unparalleled precision with our Active Liquid Distribution system (ALD)

We have specifically developed the Active Liquid Distribution system (ALD) to serve the most demanding applications with the highest possible precision. The ALD works by individually controlling the liquid flow to each

reactor such that it converges to the average over all reactors, thereby ensuring perfectly equal liquid feed distribution. The unique design is based on Avantium’s proven proprietary microfluidic glass chips therefore providing a highly accurate flow control.  An added advantage is its auto-calibrating function, avoiding the need for time consuming tuning by the operator.

High accuracy for low pressure applications with our Reactor Pressure Control (RPC)

Our Reactor Pressure Controller (RPC) is based on Avantium’s proprietary’s microfluidic technology and will help you make maximum use of your unit by reducing the likelihood of pressure-related outliers.

It  will also allow you to mitigate differences in pressure drop over the catalyst bed, particularly when restrictions form with time on stream. The extremely narrow inlet pressure control obtained at all time will greatly improve the flow distribution to the parallel reactors.

The module has been designed to work hand in hand with our TinyPressure modules combining  microfluidic chip technology and individual reactor pressure measurement. The reactor inlet or outlet pressure is thus continuously monitored with the RPC adjusting automatically the back-pressure of each reactor providing a very precise pressure control for each reactor. This is particularly critical for low pressure applications, where high relative errors in pressure can have visible effects on catalyst activity and comparison.

It can be easily installed on existing parallel pressure regulators (PPR) and connected to already present TinyPressure modules. As an autonomous system which doesn’t require daily supervision this greatly enhances your precision while not compromising on uptime.

Introducing the Flowrence XR

Accelerate your catalyst research

Over the years Avantium’s Flowrence has been recognized  by R&D organizations globally as a powerful high-throughput catalyst testing system allowing accelerated screening of new catalysts and chemistries. We have made considerable improvements to the technology applied in Flowrence and together with the combined experience of the numerous systems supplied to our customers this allowed us to devise optimal configurations for each phase of R&D.

Combining all our latest technology and our experience in configuring units for catalyst ranking and optimization we have the pleasure of introducing Flowrence XR.

The Flowrence XR allows you to evaluate the large numbers of catalysts typically required to be tested in the research phase of R&D, in a 16 parallel reactor system, all under identical conditions. As you are used to, the Flowrence XR operates under industrially applicable conditions and generates results that are reproducible and scalable.

Our technology development effort have focused on improving precision/accuracy, reliability and flexibility, making Flowrence XR the industry leader in all three of these key aspects. How have we achieved all of this? The core is the application of proprietary microfluidics technology in which liquids and gases are channeled, controlled and distributed in glass chips. Our splitter chips, TinyPressure, Active Liquid Distribution system (ALD), and Reactor Pressure Control system (RPC) are all based on our microfluidics technology.

The Flowrence XR also features our latest generation of reactor closing: EasyLoad+ offering an even safer reactor closing, allowing higher temperature operations and opening the option to have independent feeds for each reactor block. EasyLoad+ brings the incredible ease of use and efficiency of our already very popular reactor closing system to a new level!

The following table summarizes the key configuration options of the Flowrence XR. As is customary, Avantium can tailor your unit to your exact requirements, no matter what catalyst or chemistry you are testing.

In addition to the Flowrence XR, Avantium also contributes our expertise in design of experiments and analytics to help you optimize your research.
To learn more about how the Flowrence XR can accelerate your catalyst R&D, please contact us.

What you see is what you get

Compare catalyst activities in the same way you do on industrial scale

Developing industrially scalable tests with high accuracy at lab scale is a key to success for our customers. In a typical laboratory test, fixed temperature protocols are used to evaluate catalyst performance. While this is good practice when a catalyst is stable over the duration of such a test, in industry most processes are operated at constant conversion rather than constant conditions.

For some catalysts, this means that conditions need to be adjusted continuously in order to maintain constant conversion or performance. A common means of achieving this is to dynamically adjust the operating temperature based on the measured activity in the effluent of the reactor using an

automated feedback loop.

In order to provide industrially relevant performance data to our customers, we have developed and applied this feature in our Services offerings and implemented it now in our Flowrence reactor systems. The GC analysis of each reactor is used to dynamically adjust the temperature to maintain a defined target performance value.

In combination with an individual Reactor Temperature Controller (iRTC) this allows a true 16 fold independent reactor system; a key feature to speed up catalyst evaluation (e.g. reforming catalysts).

Our implementation allows for completely

unattended operation, whereby all reactors can achieve and maintain target without any manual adjustments.

As an example, consider the pictures below. The performance of four different catalytic naphtha reforming catalysts is shown with all four being narrowly operated around the same octane (RON) target by adjusting the temperature. The key performance indicators like the C5+ yield is considered including  the DHA breakdown as a measure of selectivity.

The catalyst ranking in terms of activity and selectivity clearly changes over time. More importantly sudden temperature increases and selectivity drops towards the end of the

test both provide valuable indications on catalyst lifetime, with some catalyst being better able to deliver suitable performance for a longer period of time.

Such effects can only be observed from a dynamic experiment, and are impossible to identify using a fixed temperature protocol. This approach can be applied to systems that have a noticeable deactivation over the duration of days, or even up to months.

This new feature, combined with iRTC technology will enable our customers to test industrially relevant operating conditions at laboratory scale.

On the road



Market update First unit according to strict Japan’s safety regulations built and 5 Flowrence units delivered in the middle east




NAM 2017 During the North American Catalysis conference the Flowrence XD received great feedback and showed the good acceptance in the market

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ERTC  Ask the Experts In sessions with about 130 refinery technologist and managers we engaged on strategies to select your catalyst with confidence

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Frequently asked questions



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