Benefits across Different Industries and Applications
Omar Jina, chief commercial officer, Syrris
For discovery groups and academia, it is undoubtedly about the ability to perform chemistry that is not possible by traditional techniques; flow chemistry allows the implementation of multistep reactions and incorporation of techniques such as electrochemistry or photochemistry. In process or scale-up chemistry, the strongest drivers lie more in the ability to seamlessly scale reactions, thereby reducing the time and cost of the process. Many companies are focusing on scaling processes of a hazardous nature, such as nitration; continuous flow processes that use smaller mixing volumes while still maintaining the desired scale are a very attractive proposition.
Flow chemistry has come a long way in the last 10 years and is fast becoming an accepted technology in industry, but there are still barriers to overcome. It is always very important to start with education; flow chemistry needs to be included in undergraduate chemistry courses to provide future chemists and chemical engineers with the foundations to solve chemistry problems by employing the most suitable tool – batch, flow or other techniques — for the application. A lack of commercially available pilot plant/manufacturing scale systems is also a barrier to large scale implementation, requiring very large custom projects and considerable capital outlay from industry. This is now being addressed and we should see technology become much more accessible in the very near future.
I believe that to become recognized as a breakthrough technology, flow chemistry needs to be widely adopted in multiple industries. At present, there is a rapid drive for implementation in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. However, the technology can offer fantastic benefits to many other industries, including nanotechnology, flavor and fragrances, food and biotechnology. Academia has played a vital part in the adoption of flow chemistry and there are now numerous publications showing the benefits of the technology across different industries and applications.