Experts Statements: Duncan Guthrie, Vapourtec
Flow Chemistry: A Mature Technology still on the Rise
The change in many chemical companies’ product portfolio away from commodities to customer-specific specialties is one of the current challenges facing the process industry. Flow chemistry or milli- and micro reaction technology (MRT) is a platform that can offer enormous advantages in this respect. But MRT has not yet achieved the status in fine chemicals and active ingredient manufacturing that one might expect. What are the reasons for this reluctance?
CHEManager asked executives and industry experts dealing with flow chemistry so share their opinion on why some industry sectors are so reluctant in adopting continuous production processes. We wanted to know:
Which factors are affecting the global flow chemistry market and the implementation of flow chemistry in the industry?
Duncan Guthrie: Flow chemistry has shifted in the past decades from being a novel field only a few academics were working in, to become an enabling technique for the wider scientific community.
Continuous flow processes allowed scientists of all backgrounds to achieve a better understanding of their chemical reactions. Without heat or mass transfer limitation and with precise control of key reaction parameters (such as temperature, mixing and residence time), new findings have reshaped our existing knowledge previously obtained from round bottom flask chemistry. As flow chemistry expertise built in their companies, more scientists were curious and started to work in continuous flow.
As the scientific knowledge increased, our systems had to become more sophisticated to rise to the demands from scientists. High modularity and the ability of running automated reactions with integrated analytical instruments, have also been key factors to ensure more than 500 Vapourtec systems working today in both academic and industrial laboratories.
As a well-established platform, different industries have taken advantage of working in flow for their projects.
Accuracy, flexibility, ease of scaling up and automation opened windows for increasing R&D throughput in labs worldwide.