Chemical Engineering

The ICPF represents a unique chemical engineering workplace within the Czech Republic and has a long history of research in this field. This involves top-tier fundamental research with a tradition reaching back practically to the founding of the institute in 1960. Our unique knowledge finds applications in the industrial sphere, where we maintain an array of cooperation at the national and international levels.


Study in the field of separation processes at the ICPF has in recent years been concentrated in the Research Group of Membrane Separations. Membrane separation is utilized here, especially for the separation of gas mixtures (cleaning raw biogas, separation of volatile organic compounds from the air, and flue gas cleaning).

Various polymer membranes, ionic liquid membranes, polymers of intrinsic microporosity, and composite membranes are utilized for these purposes. Pertraction and pervaporation are used for the separation of liquid mixtures. Another long-term focus is the separation of individual enantiomers and the elimination of drugs and endocrine disruptors from water by pertraction. Pervaporation is utilized for the separation of liquid components including azeotropic mixtures. The research includes modeling transport properties of membranes such as permeability, activation energy of permeation, and selectivity of the separation process. Data is evaluated with the aid of models based on activity coefficients, equations of state, and occasionally by modeling of molecular dynamics.

The European Green Deal is a fundamental document for the near and distant future of the whole chemical sector within the European Union (decarbonization of the chemical industry). Another factor that decisively affects the chemical industry in the EU is the emission allowances. Joint processing of conventional fossil raw materials and waste and/or renewable materials in existing chemical processing units can be a relatively low-investment solution. Study in this area is carried out by the Research Group of Catalysis and Reaction Engineering.

Study in the field of multiphase systems at the ICPF takes place in the Research Group of Multiphase Reactors. The research stems from a long tradition of study in the transport and reaction processes of liquid-gas systems such as bubble columns and other aerated systems. This has expanded to include fluid-solid systems for the study of flow in granular media and liquid-gas-solid systems, as in three-phase apparatuses, bioreactors, and flotation. Research on multiphase phenomena is carried out on three levels according to the natural hierarchy of the structure of physical reality—that is, on the level of one to two particles (micro), the level of particle clusters (meso), and the level of the vessel (continuum—macro). In addition to experiments, theoretical models and numerical simulations are used in the study of all systems. Experiments are based on advanced diagnostic methods such as time-resolved PIV, microPIV, electrodiffusion diagnostics, and high-speed imaging. Our theoretical and numerical methods make use of the most up-to-date software such as ANSYS Fluent, COMSOL, MATLAB, etc. An integral part of our research on multiphase systems is the characterization of phases and the study of steady-state and dynamic processes at the phase interface. For this, rheological and tensiometric methods are utilized.

Study in the field of microreactor engineering at the ICPF is undertaken by the Research Group of Microreactors. The main focus is the application of continuous-flow microreactors to the intensification and optimization of existing or new chemical technologies. This includes multiphase processes that are non-catalytic, as well as homogeneously or heterogeneously catalyzed. Examples have included the study of sulfonation and sulfation reactions for the surfactant industry, absorption of gases in liquids, selective catalytic oxidations or hydrogenations in the gaseous phase, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalytic hydrogenations in the liquid phase, and liquid radical polymerization. Processes are studied from the perspective of hydrodynamics, heat and mass transfer, and chemical kinetics with the objective of designing continuous-flow technologies for the efficient synthesis of specific products. Our laboratory is equipped with several types of continuous-flow microreactors of various scales often in combination with online analysis. Research activity also includes equipment design, prototyping with 3D printing, and manufacturing of microreactors for specific applications.

The Research Group of Algal and Microbial Biotechnology has long been involved in the use of microorganisms in environmental and food technologies. This mainly concerns photosynthetic microorganisms including both eukaryotic microalgae and prokaryotic cyanobacteria, but also heterotrophic bacteria or yeasts. Important activities of the research group include in particular the optimization and scale-up of cultivation processes of selected microorganisms, including the development of photobioreactors and downstream processes.

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