Highly reactive chemistry is a terminology used to describe chemical reactions that are particularly challenging to handle and develop due to the potentially hazardous and/or energetic nature of the reactants, intermediates and products that are present during synthesis. These chemistries often involve highly exothermic reactions which require specialized equipment or extreme operating conditions (such as low temperature) to ensure adequate control. Ensuring safe operating conditions, minimizing human exposure, and gaining the maximum amount of information from each experiment are key factors in successfully designing and scaling-up highly reactive chemistries.
Particularly challenging is the fact that sampling the reactor contents during the reaction is often impractical or impossible under the desired operating conditions. In addition, as highly reactive materials are often unstable, the accuracy of any possible offline analysis is often limited.
Handling of reagents can be minimized through the use of synthesis workstations, a new generation of technology, that are designed to provide high quality synthetic conditions (such as control over temperature and pH), a degree of automation of methods, and importantly greatly reduce the amount of material that comes into contact with the operator.
The sampling challenge can be addressed through the use of in situ reaction monitoring technology such as ReactIR™. This technology allows scientists to design and develop better and safer processes through the delivery of information regarding the behavior of reaction species such as starting materials, intermediates and products, allowing them to gain a greater understanding of the reaction being studied.