Jon Goode, Nigel Gaunt, and I attended the 1st Annual Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)/Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) Continuous Flow Symposium held last week at GlaxoSmithKline in Stevenage, United Kingdom. Considering that this was the first time this particular event was held, it was very well attended. This was yet another reminder of what seems to be an ever increasing interest in continuous flow.
While at the Symposium, I presented a poster: Continuous Chemistry with Inline ReactIR™ (FTIR) Measurement. I discussed how improvements in product quality, yield, synthetic route, safety and overall time efficiency have become the factors driving chemists and engineers to seek alternative chemical development methods. Reaction control is key to ensure only desired product is produced, as opposed to other substituents such as toxic and/or highly reactive intermediates that can be challenging to control and therefore pose significant personnel safety risks. Continuous flow reactors have the ability to better control the chemistry, reducing the likelihood of undesired product formation and are operated at such small volumes (µL to mL) that personnel safety risk is measurably reduced.
Ideal control of a continuous flow reactor automatically requires inline measurement technology. Offline analyses only provide feedback on control parameters sporadically (several minutes to hours depending upon the analysis technique/method used), as opposed to every few seconds to minutes for an inline measurement device. I discussed why the use of Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy with an integrated, micro flow cell provides an ideal inline measurement device to monitor and provide reaction feedback on control parameters for immediate understanding and optimization of the process.
My presentation highlighted the usefulness and value of a continuous flow reactor combined with inline ReactIR™ measurement technology for two different case studies: reduction and carbonylation. The information gleaned from these two examples demonstrates the effectiveness of such a combined system.
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of flow chemistry, I invite you to view the online presentation given by Professor Steven Ley of the University of Cambridge, UK: The Application of the ReactIR Flow Cell to Continuous Processing Technology or a short video that I recently made: What is Flow Chemistry?