Microscale technology and biocatalytic processes (Part 1): how to minimize the gap between research and industry
The major advantage of microreactor technology (MRT), reflected in high intensification of chemical and biochemical processes, arises from short diffusion paths in the microfluidic devices. However, the greatest opportunities and challenges still lie in the transfer of MRT to a real industrial environment. In this work we summarize commercial solutions and the strategies of scale-up in the area of the industrial MRT devices. Different concepts of large scale microreactors are presented.
The characteristic size of the microstructured device is the key difference between microsystems and conventional industrial devices. It enables us to safely and precisely perform processes, which are hard to control on larger scales (1, 2). The advantage of the fast scale up with the numbering up principle offers us to skip conventional scale-up, which is the critical step for many processes.
However, a simple numbering up of the laboratory chip is sometimes not appropriate (small throughput, inefficient flow distribution, high costs…). Other optimizations are therefore necessary to solve those problems.
This paper briefly summarizes commercial solutions in the area of industrial microstructurated devices and scale up strategies. The second paper will apply those strategies to the case study of scale up of a biocatalytic reaction with MRT.
EXPLANATIONS OF MICROPROCESS ENGINEERING TERMS
In the literature, authors use different terms for the same meaning of the enlargement of production in MRT. We summarize them in the hope of unification.