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All About Flow Chemistry

Instead of batch production, flow chemistry is a type of chemical reaction that is basically running in continuous flow stream. To make it simpler, pumps are moving the fluid into the tube and where the tube joins in one another, fluids get contact to each. If the fluids are reactive for instance, there is going to be a spike in reaction.

As a matter of fact, flow chemistry is a technique that’s well known and being used for big scale projects in manufacturing large quantities of the given material. However, it was just recently when the term is coined after the application on laboratory scale. Well most of the time, what is used is micro reactors.

Continuous reactors are manufactured using non reactive material similar to glass, polymers and stainless steel and typically tube-like. The mixing methods may include diffusion as well as static mixers. With continuous flow reactors, this is able to make good control on reaction condition that includes the heat transfer, time and mixing.

Residence time of the reagents in reactor or simply the amount of time that the reaction needed to cool or heat is observed from the reactor’s volume and at the same time, by checking the flow rate through it. For this, the reagents are pumped slowly and/or it is using bigger volume reactor to be able to attain longer residence time.

The production rates on the other hand will not be constant and it varies from liters per minute to nano-liters per minute.

The spinning tube reactors, Colin Ramshaw, oscillatory flow reactors, multi cell flow reactors, aspirator reactors, microreactors and hex reactors are only some of the flow reactors being used. Now for the aspirator reactor, there’s a pump that’s used in order to propel the reagent that is going to suck the reactant in.

Smaller scale of micro-flow reactor or the micro reactors may just be perfect on process development experiments. But this doesn’t indicate that flow chemistry isn’t able to operate at bigger scale; synthetic productive benefits from mass transfer, mass transport and even improved thermal.

Process development changes from using serial approach to parallel. When it comes to batch, the chemist will first work on it which will then be followed by a chemical engineer. In flow chemistry, this changes to parallel approach where chemist and the chemical engineer is working interactively. Typically, there’s plant setup in lab wherein there’s a tool intended for both. This particular set up may be used either for non commercial or commercial setting.

It is possible to run experiments in flow chemistry by using complex techniques such as solid phase chemistries while solid phase reagents, scavengers or catalysts could be used in solution and then, pump it through glass columns.

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