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Manufacturers of pharmaceutical products and fine chemicals who would like to find out quickly whether continuous flow chemistry in multiphase reactions is a worthwhile proposition for them can soon find the answer at TNO. From August 2015 there will be a test system on the Delft site where TNO’s experts can carry out suitable tests for interested clients.
Batch processes are commonly used in speciality and fine chemicals in particular, to provide reliability and speed. Continuous flow chemistry has several advantages over batch processing, however: it often makes for better conversion, hence better profitability. It is also much more small-scale and therefore safer.
‘In August we shall take a test system into service that will enable us to check very quickly whether it would be worthwhile for a manufacturer to use a continuous process instead of a batch process’, says TNO’s Robert Nijhuis. ‘In batch chemistry part of the yield is lost at each step in the process. Because the process comprises several steps you lose product along the way. Continuous chemistry enables us to intensify chemical processes and monitor them more effectively. It creates less waste and a higher yield under safer conditions.’
The secret of the system lies mainly in the fact that the reactor can handle several phases. It can also be adapted to specific client needs quickly and easily. And Nijhuis is also proud of its other characteristics: ‘We can test reactions with both liquids and solids. Also, the reactor is designed to withstand a pressure of 25 bar and temperatures up to 200°C. Lastly, we have full control over residence time in the reactor, thus reducing by-products.’
‘Working on continuous flow chemistry is satisfying because we really do improve manufacturers’ processes’, concludes Nijhuis. ‘By making the technology a worthwhile economic proposition we help them to explore fresh approaches. Anyone interested is welcome to contact me so that we can check, using the test system and our other systems, whether their process would be suitable for continuous chemistry. We have already been able to carry out the whole process for a client, up to building a specific system and taking it into service.’
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