Working with entrepreneurs in the organic chemistry industry to scale-up their production processes from the lab to the plant, and to collect key data and build predictive models
Mr. Marquis has been in charge of the pilot plant at OLEOTEK since June 2012. He manages technical support and applied research projects in relation to developments in the pilot plant. He designs and manages projects in collaboration with researchers from the center. As supervisor of the pilot plant, he supports organizations who wish to use the process scaling facilities and pre-commercial production services at OLEOTEK.
|Type of institution|
Cégep de Thetford, Boulevard Frontenac Ouest, Thetford Mines, QC, Canada
|I have a knowledge mobilization grant.|
Introduce your team
Francois Marquis, director of engineering at OLEOTEK Research Center in green chemistry and scale-up of chemical processes. I’m in charge of all process scale-up activities. My team is composed of one engineering project manager, two plant operators and one chemical engineering intern.
Describe your research
Our work focuses mainly on the scale-up of chemical processes, that is to say on the study of different parameters that influence the performance of a process in relation to its scale. The goal is to be able to make at an industrial scale a product that has only been done in a laboratory so far. In other words we concretize the fruit of research by making it possible to put into production.
Our research begins at the laboratory in collaboration with the team of organic chemists where we can direct the research towards the tools best adapted for scaling up. We also have an analytical lab that allows us to do characterization and reaction monitoring.
The applications are very large ranging from lubricant to polymers including adhesives. A typical process comprises of a synthesis step, possibly an evaporation and condensation step, a crystallisation step followed by a filtration and finally drying. For each of these steps we are able to acquire data in order to obtain predictive models on the behavior of the pyro scale reaction.
These predictions can be made by calculation or modeling from specialized software. Finally we can move to the pilot plant our pilot plant is classified as explosion-proof, which means that the safety measures in place allow us to work with flammable solvents in a safe manner.
At this stage, we can validate the process developed and the quality of the product manufactured. We can further improve the procedures that production operators will have to follow. Very important data is collected at this stage on energy consumption yields etc allowing the transfer of the developed technology to production.
Explain its significance
We allow products developed in the laboratory to reach their target market. Too many promising products have been developed in laboratories without ever seeing the light of day because the manufacturing process is impossible to reproduce industrially.
Our research allows companies to get off to a good start and set up a factory with an optimized process in which no effect have been overlooked including work safety. This saves companies from having to go back to the drawing board once the plant is in place and reinvesting large sums of money. This represents major time and money saving for startups. This can often means the difference between success and early failure.