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What Is Flow Chemistry?

When talking about flow chemistry, this is a chemical reaction that runs in continuous flow stream rather than batch production. For you to understand things a lot easier, the pumps move the fluid in the tube and by the time that the tubes are connected, the fluid forms into one. If the fluids are reactive for instance, there is going to be a spike in reaction.

Flow chemistry is well established and known technique for use at big scale when trying to manufacture huge quantities of given material. On the other hand, the term has been coined just recently for the application on laboratory scale. 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. Continuous flow reactors are creating good control on reaction condition that includes mixing, heat transfer and time.

The residence time for reagents in reactor or the amount of time to which the reaction is being cooled or heated is being calculated from volume of reactor as well as flow rate through it. For this, the reagents are pumped slowly and/or it is using bigger volume reactor to be able to attain longer residence time.

The production rates on the other hand will not be constant and it varies from liters per minute to nano-liters per minute.

The spinning tube reactors, Colin Ramshaw, oscillatory flow reactors, multi cell flow reactors, aspirator reactors, microreactors and hex reactors are only some of the flow reactors being used. When talking about aspirator reactor, pumps are used in propelling one reagent that will then suck the reactant.

Smaller scale of the micro-flow reactors or micro reactors could be perfect for 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. When it comes to batch, the chemist will first work on it which will then be followed by a chemical engineer. In flow chemistry, this changes to parallel approach where chemist and the chemical engineer is working interactively. In addition to that, there is a plant setup in which there is a tool designed for it. This particular set up may be used either for 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.

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