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Continuous processing, or flow chemistry, has been used for decades in the chemical industry. Recently, it has been gaining interest in the pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries due to the inherent increased safety, improved product quality and cost efficiency, and overall production flexibility. Continuous flow chemistry opens options with exothermic synthetic steps that are not possible in batch reactors, and new developments in flow reactor design provide alternatives for reactions that are mixing limited in batch reactors.
Continuous flow chemistry begins with two or more streams of different materials pumped at a pre-determined flow rates into a single chamber, tube or in some cases a microreactor. The product is collected at the outlet in a flask or container of some type or directed to another flow reactor loop for a secondary step and so on for as many steps required to generate the final product. Only small amounts of material are needed, which dramatically enhances process safety. A higher reaction temperature is generally possible thanks to shorter reaction time (residence time). This often results in better product quality and higher yield.
When coupled with process analytical technology (PAT), flow chemistry allows for rapid analysis, optimization, and scale-up of a chemical reaction. With continuous real-time analysis, researchers monitor steady state conditions, troubleshoot process mishaps, and identify reactive intermediates. When flow chemistry is analyzed with ATR-FTIR, each functional group of a given substance has a unique fingerprint which can be trended over time and provides continuous measurement of component concentration as a function or process conditions. This provides a means to track the time and conditions necessary to reach and maintain steady state.
In situ FTIR spectroscopy provides continuous monitoring of key reaction species and provides continuous measurements of kinetics, mechanism, and pathway where offline sample and analysis difficult.
ReactIR fitted with a micro flow cell easily connects to a continuous flow reactor to provide a real time “video” of the reaction chemistry as it takes place at any point in the flowing stream.