It is a market invisible to the general public which numbers in the billions: the separation of molecules in the chemical sector. “Who is also responsible for 10% of energy consumption in the world”, affirms Francois Parmentier, inventor of a revolutionary purification process, awarded with 7.4 million euros in the European competition EIC Accelerator Pilot. Multicapillary chromatography, protected by five patents, “Will accelerate green chemistry, leading to new biomaterials and biofuels, as well as new means of storing renewable energies”, considers the founder of Separative.
Filter under high pressure
Currently, purification, which represents 50 to 70% of the production costs of molecules, is mainly produced by distillation, with a huge waste of heat. Chromatography, more ecological, consists of filtering under high pressure “Like in an espresso machine, but at 300 bars instead of 15”, sums up François Parmentier. However, its cost of implementation limits its use in pharmacies and cosmetics. “Separative replaces the filter powder with a honeycomb stone crossed by vertical microchannels”, he explains. In the form of columns 10 to 20 millimeters in diameter and 30 centimeters high, the process, without heat, more permeable, is thirty times less greedy in pressure and ten times faster.
Two million euros
This former chemical engineer at Rhône-Poulenc had nurtured his idea for twenty-five years. But it’s thanks to numerical calculation, his specialty for fifteen years at IFP, which he simulated and overcome the problems posed by his intuition. Hosted on the Axel’One collaborative platform of the Axelera competitiveness cluster, its start-up has raised 2 million since its creation, in 2014, half of which came from the national i-Lab and i-Nov competitions. The American scientific instrumentation group Agilent Technologies acquired a minority stake (11%) in 2018.
This European grant will allow Separative to finalize its product for small volumes of pharmaceutical research, before going through the entire value chain, from clinical studies to the production of drugs, with larger columns for the needs of the order of the ton. The company will then be mature to tackle materials, fuels and even reprocessing of nuclear waste.
Creation date : 2014
CEO: Francois Parmentier
Effective : 6 persons
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