Panel Discussion on Flow Chemistry – Commentary article


Nelson Mandela University, South Africa


Prof Paul Watts summarises the responses from a Panel Discussion on manufacturing using flow chemistry. This topic is of particular interest, as the importance of micro reactor technology and flow chemistry in industrial manufacturing is rapidly rising. Topics discussed include, why change from batch to flow and different approaches for minimizing risk when implementing this technology. Furthermore the question of what role modelling plays in flow process development was discussed, as well as ‘does one size fit all’ or should integration of different technologies and techniques be considered? Which sectors have seen the fastest uptake of flow chemistry was debated and the role of collaboration was discussed. Finally, what are the remaining challenges and in which markets or countries will flow processing have the greatest impact in the future.

Manufacturing using Flow Chemistry

Chimica Oggi - Chemistry today has conducted a Panel Discussion on the use of flow chemistry in industrial applications (the answers of the interviewees can be found in the following pages). Without doubt, all experts expressed that flow chemistry has many advantages such as better heat transfer rates, higher efficiency, shorter reaction times and reduced reagent use in reaction optimisation. Regarding process intensification, better reaction control and enhanced safety were critical, however it was emphasized that in many instances the reaction concentration may be increased resulting in much higher space-time yields, making processes much more efficient compared to batch at an industrial scale. In addition, there are safety advantages for processes using toxic or thermally labile materials and/or for highly exothermic reactions; energy savings may also be made as less stringent cooling requirements are needed in such processes. Although yield improvements are often highlighted, further implications such as reduced impurities mean purification can be simplified, resulting in reduced solvent utilization; making it an ef ...