Process efficiency is a valuable concept in the sustainability mission of the process industry. It is translated in a production environment as a maximal conversion of raw material into the desired end product, with minimal energy use. At the same time, auxiliary resources such as solvents are recycled and waste streams are reduced or valorized.

Electrification and biochemical synthesis routes can offer alternatives for conventional chemical production processes and lead to safer and more sustainable operation at less severe temperature and pression conditions, with minimal loss of waste heat. VITO contributes to this strategy via its electrochemical, gas fermentation and enzymatic technology platforms, for example for the production of drop-in chemicals, bioplastics and high value nanocrystals.

The application of process intensification goes further than an efficiency increase in existing production processes. It consists of concepts aiming at productivity increase and sustainable separation, while preserving and improving selectivity and product quality. VITO applies membrane technology for the direct coupling with chemical and biological conversion processes and as alternative for the energy-intensive distillation techniques.

Radical improvements in sustainability are achievable in industrial parks through industrial symbiosis and alignment in resource management. This consists of an optimal inflow and reuse of resources, energy and water in a synergetic and circular way. VITO evaluates the valorization of salt and metal containing process and side streams for reuse in (bio)processes and metal recovery respectively .