Emmanuelle de Guise | 21 avril 2021
For its last conference, the Poly-Monde 2021 mission team had the honour to receive Dr. Ryuichi Yatomi thanks to Prof. Philippe A. Tanguy, President of Polytechnique Montréal, who was also our guest. Sharing this memorable experience was symbolic because it concluded the videoconferences sprint of our comparative study. We want to thank Prof. Yatomi and Prof. Tanguy for their participation and strong support to the Poly-Monde 2021 mission.
Dr. Ryuichi Yatomi is a chemical engineer based in Taiwan who has worked for Sumitomo Heavy Industries (SHI), a Japanese machinery, steel equipment and steel structure manufacturing company. Although its primary expertise is the heavy industry, SHI also has other industries such as distillation, extraction and brewing equipment for bio food and bioenergy. They have developed unique products in Taiwan, such as a proton therapy system equipped with a proton generator to treat cancer and an asteroid explorer named “Hayabusa-2”.
From Dr. Yatomi's presentation entitled "Fundamental Technology and Materials for new industries in Taiwan", there are many polymerization reactors on the market, like gas-phase or fluidized bed reactors, loop reactors, horizontal reactors, and mixing reactors. Dr. Yatomi has worked on a new product that could benefit the biotechnical industry. MAXBLEND is a new chemical mixing reactor that can operate with low or high viscosity liquids because of its unique impeller design. MAXBLEND has a short mixing time, good gas absorption, high heat transfer, and uniform suspension at lower power consumption than its competitors.
In the biotechnology industry, a bioreactor is a vital instrument to control and study the cell culture in a closed environment. The main variables that affect cell growth are pH, temperature, oxygen and energy supply, and media volume, area, and viscosity. These variables should always be constant or carefully changed because a drastic change could cause stress to the cell and cell death. On a pilot scale, these factors can be easily controlled. However, the industry uses commercial-sized bioreactors, which are difficult to use to maintain a homogeneous cell production. MAXBLEND assures a low and uniform cell shear which is how the cell changes morphology based on stress imposed.
Some examples of fundamental technology can be observed in materials used in various industries in Taiwan. For example, the Lithium-ion battery used in electric vehicles uses a separator made of polymer films like Polyolefin or Epoxy between the cathode and the anode. In the future, these batteries will have a higher capacity and higher energy density. These variations increase the growth rate of the lithium dendrite, which would make them reach the separator faster. If the separator is impure, the battery is more at risk of creating a short-circuit and could cause accidents. To prevent these effects, the separator needs to be of high purity and to have a uniform molecular structure. These characteristics can be obtained easily by an effective chemical reactor like MAXBLEND.
Another example is low-potassium materials in 5G networks — the materials needed in the hardware of autonomous car’s sensors and 5G systems. The low-potassium materials used in these systems have an ultra-high viscosity due to their long polymer chain and complex structure. Therefore, horizontal reactors and a suitable impeller like MAXBLEND are used to obtain high purity materials at a higher reaction speed.
Mixing chemical reactors can have severe problems on their impellers as polymer blocks can accumulate and stick on the impeller and the tanks’ interior surfaces. After some scale-down tests, Dr. Yatomi explains that MAXBLEND has higher productivity by a shorter batch cycle. It decreases the cleaning work, saves time and money, and decreases industrial waste of byproducts of an anchor impeller. Besides, because MAXBLEND mixes uniformly, the surfaces are cleaner, resulting in an increase in energy efficiency by 38%.