Outline of Research Unit FOR 583

Solid sponges made of ceramic, metal, glass or polymer are highly porous, monolithic materials with fascinating properties. Their open-cell structure consists of stiff, interconnected struts. Struts and voids represent continuous networks which penetrate each other. Solid sponges exhibit a great potential as internals in process engineering equipment which has not been explored, yet.

Some examples for the applicability of solid sponges in process engineering have been reported in the literature. However, quantitative criteria for the useful employment of these materials and for the comparison with conventional particle beds, packings or structured internals are still missing. A major reason is the lack of knowledge with respect to the quantitative description of transport phenomena within sponges. In addition, the selection of suitable materials for a specific application requires a better knowledge of the behaviour under mechanical and thermal stress.

This Research Unit carries out both, fundamental studies and investigations of selected applications, of sponges made of ceramic, metal and glass. The fundamentally oriented projects are devoted to some aspects of materials science, and to the investigation of momentum, heat and mass transfer. The applied projects investigate processes where sponges are employed in catalytic reactors, photo-bioreactors, filters, burners, static mixers and evaporators. It is the aim of this Research Unit to acquire a theoretical basis for the quantitative assessment of the potential and applicability of solid sponges, and to provide suitable models which enable the design of processing equipment.