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Chemical Process Development


Dr. Fabienne Schwab, Adolphe Merckle Institute, University of Fribourg

Roger Marti
Répertoire des compétences

mars 2020 - mars 2022

In collaboration with Dr. Fabienne Schwab from the Adolphe Merkle Institute, the team at Institute ChemTech worked on the process optimization and scale-up of a nanoagrochemical. The process was successfully transferred from the bench to a pilot process using the 100-L reactors of HEIA-FR. This enables producing the nanomaterial at the kilogram scale.

Dr Fabienne Schwab from the Adolphe Merckle Institute has developed and patented a simple, environmentally benign solution based on nanomaterials for fertilization and targeted delivery of active ingredients to agricultural crops that could greatly reduce the amount of conventional agrochemicals needed for agriculture.

This nanoagrochemical releases beneficial silica that makes plants more robust against plant diseases and extreme weather conditions. At the end of its life cycle, the nanofertilizer degrades tracelessly into nontoxic dissolved silica.

Within the Innosuisse project, the team at Institute ChemTech worked on the process optimization and scale-up of this nanoagrochemical. The challenging up-scale of the nanoparticle synthesis was first studied in the lab at one-litre scale, for which all process parameters were optimized and the isolation of the final nanofertilizer was adapted to industrial equipment. The process was then successfully transferred to the pilot scale in the 100-L reactors at the HEIA-FR, to produce the nanomaterial at the kilogram scale.

Enabling the industrial production of nanoagrochemicals will set a new standard for safe, organic, and sustainable crop production that can adapt to future climate changes without irreversible modifications to the plant genome or ecosystem.

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