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A New Approach to Industrial Innovation

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Process intensification (PI) has not fulfilled its promise of transforming the chemical process industries. A new approach to innovation is needed to ensure successful development and implementation of intensified projects.

The chemical process industries (CPI) are being challenged to adapt and introduce new processes that contribute to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (1). A big change is the transition from fossil to renewable energy, which requires extraordinary efforts, as does quickly developing new, reliable, and efficient processes. In some cases, processes are being scaled down to utilize renewable energy and/or to produce less hazardous intermediate products, limiting their transportation and enhancing safety.

New design methods are needed to advance the CPI’s pursuit of sustainability goals while keeping capital and operating costs low. Process intensification (PI) can help to meet this challenge (2). But, so far, PI has not lived up to its promise of transforming the CPI. This article argues that intensification of the CPI requires the development of a hybrid PI approach and the implementation of an industrial innovation model that unifies research and development (R&D), marketing, and operations departments.

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