Minakem’s Flow Process Wins French Award

29.10.2020 - French contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Minakem has won the 2020 Pierre Potier prize for its continuous flow process to produce a bio-sourced solvent that repurposes plant waste – notably corn stalk or sugar cane residue.

Through the newly developed technology, Minakem said it has grown to become the leading global producer of 2-Methyltetrahydrofuran (2-Me THF), which replaces chlorinated solvents as either a reaction or extraction solvent in hazardous environments.

Because of its preservative properties, bio-based 2-Me THF also has applications in the production of other major solvents, such as green propylene glycol used in the cosmetics industry. Another product obtained from furan using a green process is dimethoxydihydrofuran (DMDHF), which is used as a pharmaceutical intermediate.

While continuous chemistry is widely used in the petrochemical industry, it is a relatively new concept in fine chemical and pharmaceutical production, which still relies on batch manufacture. Minakem said the arrival of new technologies with particularly effective heat exchanges, such as microfluidics that make certain reactions difficult to control in batch mode, have triggered the adoption of flow chemistry.

Created in 2006 by the French Ministry for the Economy, Finance and Industry, and now maintained by the Maison de la Chimie Foundation and France Chimie, the Pierre Potier Prize highlights and rewards chemistry initiatives that encourage sustainable development and eco-responsible approaches.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist