Chemical development is a time-consuming, expensive and labour-intensive process. This results in a high environmental load and a long time-to-market for a drug molecule. As this could affect the viability and accessibility of the pharmaceutical product, the pharmaceutical companies are increasingly looking for quicker, cost effective and safer process development handles with efficient production platforms. Traditionally new chemicals are developed using batch processing, which fully relies on versatile and qualified equipment to perform different unit operations.
Scaling up of these unit operations require judicious efforts of chemical engineers to implement lab-scale prototyping to bigger scale. The translation of work from laboratory to production environment has its own challenges and dimensions to make process safe, environment friendly and viable for commercial scale.
To address above challenges, Continuous flow chemistry technology is currently emerging as an effective tool to conduct chemical synthesis , both at the micro and mesoscale, providing an improved productquality with safe and environmental conducive process in comparison to traditional batch synthesis.
Flow chemistry is the development and study of chemical processes in continuous flowing streams in tubes, through a controlled pumping mechanism at known rates. These reactions utilize the advantage of rapid mixing of reactants and appropriate surface to volume ratios effects.
The application of this technology has blossomed tremendously due to various advantages it offers – large surface area to volume ratio provide efficient mass and heat transfer rates, use of solvents at elevated temperatures, reduced reaction time, better chemical selectivity and improved yields etc. The most common types of reactors are plug flow reactors and column reactors, whilst for specific chemistries more sophisticated reactor designs might be needed (e.g., photoreactors, electrochemical reactors, etc).
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