Chemical Process Intensification is a process concept aimed at positively influencing the progress of a chemical reaction by coupling the conversion process and a continuous separation on a molecular level. VITO applies membrane technology since it is fit for use in broad reaction condition range, resistant to chemical compositions and allows looping of the reaction medium while continuously separating a given component.

Your benefits

Handling reagent-sensitive reactions:

Reagent precipitation (process limitation) or side-product formation (selectivity loss) at high concentration require high dilution conditions. This implies the need for large reactor vessels, large volumes of solvent for the production of little amount of desired product. The patented concept of Volume Intensified Dilution (VITO-VID®) was developed in first instance for the pharmaceutical industry in the production of macrocyclic molecules (similar products were observed in the fragrances industry) and allows the simulation of diluted conditions, by continuous solvent recycle to a reagent mixing tank and controlled reagent addition from the mixing to the reaction tank, with following advantages:

  • > 85 % reduction of solvent use which significantly decreases process mass intensity (PMI)
  • Increase in product selectivity (some cases 50 % gain) and possibility to have continuous product isolation by adapted operation

Homogeneous catalyst recycle:

The use of homogeneous catalysts avoids limitation in reagent supply to catalytic active sites, resulting in higher turnovers. However, these are applied in batch processes, mostly based on noble metals and require adequate recovery. The heterogenisation of such catalysts can be applied to ensure easy catalyst recovery after reaction and compatibity to continuous operation modes. However lower activities can be obtained and activity loss by catalyst leaching cannot always be avoided. Coupling of membrane filtration for recovery of expensive homogeneous catalyst can be a good compromise for applications in the fine chemical industry, via different strategies:  

  • Low catalyst stability: consecutive batch reaction and separation within the same reactor vessel at room temperature allows maximal catalyst lifetime and recovery
  • High catalyst stability: in-situ catalyst recovery allows operation in continuous or fed-batch mode and increased productivities with the same reactor vessel

Compatible membrane separation process:

In contrast to distillation and extraction, adequate membrane technology can be operated at given reaction conditions as applied in the conversion tank. A broad range of ceramic and polymeric-based membrane modules and GMP/ATEX equipment are commercially available for such application. Membrane-based separation is a mature technology and equipment can easily be coupled to existing tank reactors.

Our offer

Access to combined knowhow on 1- integrated reaction concepts, 2- membrane-based separation (applicability/process engineering) and 3- organic chemistry/homogeneuous catalysis, decision support for investment in integrated concepts and insight in feasibility by short proof-of-concept study (possible via risk participation/on VITO’s account). 

Why work with VITO?


Execution of proof-of-concept study (min. 300 ml) with minimal need of product/catalyst, supported by brief techno-economic assessment. Infrastructure is available for standard, ATEX and GMP production on-site, with strong technical support. The applications can be included in VITO’s existing patent portfolio or can be co-developped.

Download Lab & pilot separation infrastructure document

Expertise and knowhow

>8 years experience with all types of commercial membranes from market leading suppliers, applicability in complex chemical media and process engineering. Models can predict basic design of separation equipment, investment and operational costs for the integrated concept, benchmarked with conventional operation. Development projects are supervised by experts in organic chemistry with track-record in the pharmaceutical industry.