Instead of batch production, flow chemistry is a type of chemical reaction that is basically running in continuous flow stream. To make it simpler, pumps are moving the fluid into the tube and where the tube joins in one another, fluids get contact to each. Expect to have a spike in reaction in the event that the fluids are reactive.
Flow chemistry is well established and known technique for use at big scale when trying to manufacture huge quantities of given material. The term has been just recently coined for application on laboratory use. Micro reactors are more often than not being used.
In most instances, continuous reactors are tube-like and at the same time, manufactured from polymers, stainless steel as well as glass because they’re known to be non reactive material. As for the mixing methods, this can be through diffusion or static mixers. With continuous flow reactors, this is able to make good control on reaction condition that includes the heat transfer, time and mixing.
Residence time of the reagents in reactor or simply the amount of time that the reaction needed to cool or heat is observed from the reactor’s volume and at the same time, by checking the flow rate through it. For this reason, in an effort to attain longer residence time, the reagents may be pumped slowly and /or bigger volume reactor is put into used.
When it comes to production rates, this can be liters per minute to nano-liters per minute.
Few examples of the flow reactors are spinning tube reactors, spinning disk reactors or otherwise called as Colin Ramshaw, oscillatory flow reactors, multi cell flow reactors, microreactors, aspirator reactors and hex reactors. Now for the aspirator reactor, there’s a pump that’s used in order to propel the reagent that is going to suck the reactant in.
Smaller scale of micro-flow reactor or the micro reactors may just be perfect on process development experiments. Although, it is possible to operate flow chemistry at bigger scale, synthetic efficiency benefits from mass transfer as well as improved thermal and also, mass transport.
Processes development is changing from serial approach to parallel. Now when talking about batch, the chemist is going to work first and then, they’ll be followed by a chemical engineer. Now for flow chemistry, this changes to parallel approach to which both the chemical engineer and the chemist are working side by side. In addition to that, there is a plant setup in which there is a tool designed for it. This set up can be seen in non commercial or commercial setting.
It is also possible to make experiments in flow chemistry that utilizes more complex techniques similar to solid phase chemistries while solid phase reagents, scavengers or catalysts might be integrated in the solution and then, pump it on glass columns.