Unique Opportunity for Innovation and Improvement
Luigi Vaccaro, professor, Laboratory of Green Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Università di Perugia
Both academic and industrial research is attracted by solid opportunities to create innovation while improving the competitiveness of the chemical production. At this concern, flow chemistry has become a pivotal key enabling technology that offers the unique opportunity to both innovate and improve the efficiency of synthetic methodologies leading to custo-
mized effective processes. Therefore, flow chemistry is a successful tool for researchers to disclose highly relevant publications and/or patents while creating new opportunities to excel in both academia and industry.
While the cost of flow equipment is often mentioned at this concern, in my opinion this is not the real barrier that prevents flow chemistry to establish itself. I consider more important the cultural barrier consisting in the lack of knowledge about the general utility of this technology. I believe that a new generation of professionals needs to be trained to master flow chemistry and eventually consider it as a common effective laboratory tool. Universities and companies will have to cooperate at this aim via specific industrial Master and PhD programs.
Flow chemistry is able to improve the efficiency of processes allowing the manipulation of unsafe toxic intermediates and reagents and offering a unique opportunity to design innovative protocols for the preparation and manipulation of fine chemicals and active pharmaceutical ingredients. Flow chemistry will consolidate its role in this arena but also find novel opportunities in emerging areas of research as, for example, in the manipulation of biobased chemicals and in biomass valorization where academia and industry are both looking for cost-effective access to a new generation of safe chemicals that can be produced in larger scale.
Real case applications can confirm the wide general utility of this technology and therefore further research in several different directions is crucial. To achieve this result multidisciplinary international consortia of universities and companies should be created to train next generation of professionals and apply flow chemistry principles in several different areas as green/sustainable chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, materials for energy and fuels.