Five minutes at Informex with
Dr. Yi Jiang, Business Director – Global Reactor Technologies, Corning Incorporated.
PH: Corning is one of the few equipment suppliers here. Are you launching or showcasing any new products here?
Jiang: We’ve attended the show for many years and have some highlights here. We’ve had a lot of success over the past year with industrial-scale flow chemistry demonstrations. This year, we successfully demonstrated the G4 reactor system under cGMP and FDA compliance. This same pharmaceutical customer, who we’ve worked with since late 2015, was using our multi-purpose silicon carbide G1 platform and made the decision to switch to the G4 before the end of 2016. This allows you to really look at the chemistry and optimise the process. By October 2016, our work together had led to them getting it installed at industrial scale.
PH: What else are you showing?
Jiang: Another big feature this year was the announcement of the new Lab Reactor system, which we have brought to this show for the first time. The objective of releasing this new product is to try to help more people step into flow chemistry at lab scale. We find that with significant growth in this technology, there is huge demand for talent with a flow chemistry background and huge support from industry. Within Corning, we wanted to help better educate the industry on flow chemistry at lab scale so we looked at the thinking styles of chemists and chemical engineers and worked out how we could bring them something that is easy and intuitive to use.
PH: What are the specific advantages of the Lab Reactor?
Jiang: Chemists often have to spend a lot of time dealing with chillers and flow meters and that can be very frustrating for them. With this machine, we think we really did a good job of integrating all of the dosing and data acquisition in a plug-and-play box. In addition, the reactor modules have full access from various angles, so you can fully visualize what is going on inside the reactor. We can also provide more modules, such as for photochemistry. The new generation of chemists is more familiar with WiFi, smartphones and tablets, so all of the controls can be accessed through these. We also invited some college chemistry students to work in our technology centre in France, didn’t give them instructions but just let them play with the system. After about a week and a half, they had worked out how to use it. Typically, they are frustrated if you give them a lot of mechanical controls to master but the students picked up the technology quickly.
PH: Is it on the market now and what are the target markets?
Jiang: We launched it in March and now we are shipping it. Academics are a big market for this product as well as anyone who is doing research and is new to flow chemistry and wants to get into it.
PH: And for the industrial reactors, who are the customers?
Jiang: Both big pharma and biotech companies are our major customers for industrial reactors. I think that pharma has been picking up very fast since last year, especially in production units. For instance, in Italy, Angelini Pharma recently installed a G4 reactor for API production after working with G1 systems at smaller scale. Last year was a big year for us with our G4 installations tripling over the last three years and some customers installing multiple reactors, which really shows their confidence in this type of chemistry.