Project: Microwave assisted flow reactor

With a strong trend for automation in pharmaceutical research, high-throughput chemistry is still carried out in batches; whereas flow-through processes are restricted to production processes. Unlike batch reactors, the output of a flow device can be changed without altering the hardware or set-up conditions. This flexibility saves time and cost in development. The CO advantages of the continuous approach are facile automation, reproducibility, safety and process reliability as reaction parameters are more easily controlled. The improved control capabilities of flow systems can also deliver better yield and productivity. A fully optimised flow process can be used to continually synthesise complex products in a single process from inexpensive and simple starting materials, a task unparalleled by batch chemistry methods._x000D_MiFlow is a 2 year Applied R&D collaborative project between two innovative SMEs, which aims to develop a novel microwave assisted flow reactor to allow scalability of reactions with minimal process development. The reactor will be based on a design utilising a travelling wave microwave applicator allowing rapid and efficient heating of the process reactants. The reactor should reduce energy usage of trialed chemical transformations significantly (to at least 30%) and also give a large increase in energy efficiency (greater than 50%). The ionic liquid processes being utilized to prove the reactor concept will be tailored from a range of end-user specific processes provided by Solvionic._x000D_Ionic liquids will be used as the test medium for the lab trials and the processes being utilized to prove the reactor concept will be tailored from a range of end-user specific processes provided by Solvionic. Ionic liquids have non measurable vapour pressure. As a consequence, they are non flammable and do not evaporate. They have very wide thermal, chemical and electrochemical stability, low melting point, high ionic conductivity, low viscosity, high polarity. They are very good solvents for a wide range of materials (organic, inorganic, polymers, cellulose etc.). The variation of their ion structures allows their exploitation in a wide range of applications such as ion conductive materials for electrochemical devices or solvents for synthesis and catalysis, separation and extraction, biotechnology, and surface treatments._x000D_Technical application:_x000D_C-Tech’s concept design allows for a continuous flow through system using a traveling wave microwave applicator. This allows the use of relatively large bore process pipe-work and initial measurements and modeling at C-Tech show that large amounts of power can be coupled to the load using this design, allowing the use of high flow rates and hence high throughputs._x000D_Market Applications:_x000D_The technology demonstrator will be proven on a large range of transformations provided to C-Tech by the collaborating P, Solvionic. The capabilities of the proposed system give it several key advantages over batch processing:_x000D_• Faster reaction times - reaction rates have been observed to be 10-1000 times faster than when using conventional heating_x000D_• High throughput – using these fast reaction times coupled with a system throughput of up to 1L/min a possible 100 kg/day can be processed._x000D_• Flexibility – a change of process pipe work will allow easy scale up giving an increased throughput of 10 times that previous._x000D_• Cost – low COtenance requirements and hence cost._x000D_• Quality – increased quality of product due to shorter contact times and therefore a lower probability of side reactions._x000D_• Higher reaction temperatures – carrying out chemistry in flow allows operation at much higher temperatures than batch chemistry. Large scale batch chemistry is generally limited to temperatures <150°C, but using microwave flow chemistry it is much easier to access temperatures >200°C and, in addition, as the inventory of hazardous materials is much lower it is also much safer._x000D_Consortium:_x000D_The MiFlow project brings together the core innovative technologies necessary to produce the novel microwave reactor, and provides a rapid route to market. C-Tech Innovation is a research and technology development consultancy SME with strong experience in microwave and chemical applications. Solvionic is another research performing SME, with specialist expertise in ionic liquids, their design, their production and the development of their applications. Within the framework of sustainable chemistry, Solvionic develops selective chemistry branching from the use of ionic liquids._x000D_Solvionic and C-Tech will develop a highly energy efficient microwave flow reactor and using ionic liquid based processes will compile a large amount of evidence to aid the dissemination and further commercialisation._x000D_

Acronym MiFlow (Reference Number: 6805)
Duration 01/03/2012 - 28/02/2014
Project Topic MiFlow will develop a novel microwave assisted flow reactor to allow scale-up of reactions with minimum process development and giving significant energy savings. The reactor concept will be proved by testing with novel ionic liquid reactions tailored from a range of end-user specific processes.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
- Review of regulations and standards and assessment of their commercial impact._x000D_- Assessment of what is currently available on the market (competitor technologies) and what the market needs are._x000D_- Definition of the target performances of MIFLOW reactor._x000D_- Review of commercially available static mixers and assessement of their features and benefits. Final selection for the MIFLOW reactor._x000D_- Fabrication of the MIFLOW reactor demonstration unit._x000D_- Evaluation of MIFLOW reactor performances using a range of model reactions (metatheses, dehydration, esterification), collection of performance data and comparisons with conventional batch reactor performances in realistic end-user conditions._x000D_- Recommendations for further improvement of MIFLOW reactor performances.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 7

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
2 C-Tech Innovation Ltd Coordinator United Kingdom
2 Solvionic Partner France