Continuous Flow Chemistry enables researchers to both evaluate and produce synthetic intermediates and products that would otherwise be inaccessible using conventional batch techniques. The scale that reactions are performed on is key to harnessing the advantages of this technology which stem from the rapid mixing and efficient thermal transfer at the µm to mm scale.
Working closely together with the pharmaceutical and fine chemicals industry Chemtrix BV has developed a complete, easy to scale product portfolio for continuous processing from lab to industrial production scale. Our laboratory systems (Labtrix® and KiloFlow®) are based on glass reactors, selected due to chemical compatibility, familiarity to the synthetic chemist and optical transparency. Our system for industrial scale continuous manufacturing, Plantrix®, is based on 3M™ Silicon Carbide reactors selected for their superior chemical flexibility and high corrosion resistance.
In Flow Chemistry, two or more reagents are continuously pumped into a flow-reactor, where they mix and subsequently react under thermal control. Flow Chemistry has some major advantages. Mixing can be achieved within seconds and reaction temperature can raised above the solvent's boiling point, resulting in faster reactions. Flow Chemistry enables excellent reaction selectivity. The rapid diffusion mixing avoids the issues found in batch reactors. The high surface area to volume ratio (1000x greater than a batch reactor) enables almost instantaneous heating or cooling and therefore ultimate temperature control, resulting in cleaner products.
Flow chemistry allows only a small amount of hazardous intermediate to be formed at any instant. The high surface area also allows excellent control of exothermic reactions using Flow Chemistry, resulting in safer reactions. Flow Chemistry with automation enables the quick variation of reaction conditions on a µl-scale. Parameters such as reaction time, temperature, flow, pumped volumes and pressure can all be rapidly varied. One reaction can follow another, separated by solvent, each cleaning out the previous reaction enabling quick reaction optimization. Scale up issues are minimized due to maintaining excellent mixing and heat transfer. Higher flow rates and correspondingly larger reactors can be used to easily produce kilogram or tonne-scale quantities using Flow Chemistry.
A Flow Reactor (or Micro Reactor) is a device in which chemical reactions take place in micro channels. The Micro Reactor is usually a continuous flow reactor (contrast with/to a batch reactor). Micro Reactors offer many advantages over conventional scale reactors, including vast improvements in energy efficiency, reaction speed and yield, safety, reliability, scalability, on-site/on-demand production, and a much finer degree of process control.
Chemtrix Micro Reactors have up to 3 reagent inputs, suitable for A+B or A+B+C reactions. After the reactants are pumped into the Micro Reactor, the reactants are pre-heated before going into the SOR-mixer where they mix. After mixing, the fluids enter the residence time channels in which the reaction takes place. Depending on the speed of the reaction, different Micro Reactors are available with different volumes. To stop the reaction in the Micro Reactor, a quench can be pumped in. Before entering the second SOR mixer, the quench solvent is pre-heated. Chemtrix BV supply a series of standard glass Micro Reactors, suitable for reaction screening at the mg to g scale. The Micro Reactors differ in volume and number of fluidic input connections.