About PI & S

Process Intensification

The concept of Process Intensification (PI), was developed within ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) in the late 1970s.  The main intention of PI at that time was to enable big reductions in the cost of processing systems, without impairing production rate (Ramshaw, 1999).

Since the initial concept was proposed there have been numerous definitions of PI proposed.  For example, some researchers regard miniaturization as the fundamental issue of PI, with microreactors being the most typical example(Stitt, 2002).  However, as stated by van Gerven and Stankiewicz (2009), PI may never find a single, commonly accepted definition.

As a general principle the PI & S concept involves:

  • More efficient use of resources
  • Increasing both product output and quality
  • Embracing the tenets of process sustainability



Although there are several notable examples where processes based on PI have been successfully commercialised (Charpentier, 2007), the chemical process industries have generally not been proactive in their acceptance of PI & S.  The relative lack of penetration of PI & S is surprising as, typically, successful PI systems have enabled process plant size reductions of 100 times (Stankiewicz and Moulijn,2002).


Significance & Drivers

In 2050, around 9 billion people will live on this planet (BASF in Greater China, Report 2012). Whilst this population growth is associated with enormous global challenges, it also creates many opportunities for the chemical process industries.  According to BASF, the chemical industry is expected to grow particularly strongly in the emerging economies, and that these markets will account for around 60% of global chemical production by 2020.  Innovations based on Green Technology & Chemistry, particularly PI & S, will play a key role in conserving resources, protecting the environment and improving quality of life.




Charpentier, J.C. (2007). In the frame of globalization and sustainability, process intensification, a path to the future of chemical and process engineering (molecules into money). Chemical Engineering Journal, 134:84-92

Ramshaw, C. (1999). Process intensification and green chemistry. Green Chemistry, 15-17

Stankiewicz, A. and Moulijn, J.A. (2002). Process intensification. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research 41:1920-1924

Stitt, E.H. (2002). Alternative multiphase reactors for fine chemicals: A world beyond stirred tanks? Chemical Engineering Journal, Vol. 90, Issues 1-2, 47-60

Van Gerven, T. and Stankiewicz, A. (2009). Structure, energy, synergy, time-the fundamentals of process intensification. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research 48:2465-2474