Unsurpassed Heat and Mass Transfer Properties
Stefan Brand, head of Process Innovation, Group Technology & Innovation, Process Technology, Clariant
Flow chemistry, based on milli and micro reactors, is a powerful production process technology with unsurpassed heat and mass transfer properties. It is especially beneficial for fast chemical reactions and in cases where an effective mixing of the reaction medium is required.
Major drivers for the application of flow chemistry are: globally increasing process safety requirements, the possibility to enter new reaction paths and the opportunity to produce tailor-made chemical products, which is known as product-by-process concept. To a large extend, the quality of polymeric compounds depends on their manufacturing conditions. As an example, the molecular weight distribution of polymers can be much better controlled with flow chemistry than during batch processes. The small reactor volume of milli and micro reactors is the reason for inherent safe production processes and allows the exploitation of new process windows, e.g. use of raw materials which are not suitable for batch reactions.
Prerequisites for the implementation of flow chemistry within a chemical company are an overall innovative mindset as well as readiness to invest in new production technologies. Additional convincing examples of the successful realization of flow chemistry plants for producing e.g. specialty chemicals will speed up the expansion of this promising technology.