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chemical synthesis

Specialists at Anton Paar have “printed” a micro-flow-reactor that could simplify the chemical synthesis dramatically. The device is made of steel via direct laser metal sintering and was developed within an international research project called CC Flow. The project is the starting point for tailor-made microreactors from Anton Paar.

The pharmaceutical industry consistently reports high company revenues. This is due to highly valuable products called APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) that extend our lives and result in high turnover for the pharmaceutical companies. APIs are either produced biotechnologically using huge fermenters with thousands of liters in volume or made by organic synthesis. “In order to speed up these costly processes and increase the safety (for example, to avoid the risk of an explosion that is often connected to organic synthesis), researchers and manufacturers started considering continuous technologies in small reactors with small volumes and a high throughput,” says Günter Köle, head of the department for Analytical and Synthetic Chemistry at Anton Paar.

Within the research project “CC Flow” and together with pharmaceutical companies like Janssen, Patheon, Astra Zeneca, and Lonza, the specialists at Anton Paar have printed such a microreactor. “We developed just three prototypes until we knew the final design and the perfect internal and external dimensions,” explains Stefan Pfanner, specialist for additive manufacturing and direct metal laser sintering at the Austrian technology company. The technology was used to produce the microreactor following the research and simulation by Prof. Oliver Kappe and his team from the University of Graz.

A Reactor out of a Printer
The reactor itself is made from stainless steel (316L powder), is just a little bit smaller than an A5/B5 sheet (exactly 164 mm x 93 mm), and about 3 cm thick. It consists of a serpentine cooling core surrounded by the reaction channels with an inner diameter of 0.8 mm and a total length of four meters, with four inlets, two defined reaction zones, and one outlet. This reactor was exactly designed for one synthesis: the difluoromethylation of a lithiated nitrile with fluoroform as a major component. Fluoroform is a known greenhouse gas and a byproduct of the synthesis of Teflon (known from coatings and high-performance fibers like Gore-Tex). “Stainless steel was the ideal material considering the required chemical, mechanical, and thermal stability, and the thermal conductivity that was needed for this kind of organic reaction,” explains Stefan Pfanner.

The reactor design enables the conversion of a batch reaction into a scalable, fast, and continuous process. “By connecting several microreactors, the product yield can easily be multiplied,” reports Günter Köle, who plans to develop various tailor-made reactor types for different industrial requirements. It is likely that additive and digital manufacturing technologies, in combination with computational simulation, will play a fundamental role in designing the next-generation, continuous flow microreactor systems. Since the project has recently been published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, industrial interest has already popped up.

For more info email info.gb@anton-paar.com

Anton Paar Ltd

Anton Paar develops, produces and distributes highly accurate laboratory instruments and process measuring systems, and provides custom-tailored automation and robotic solutions.

Anton Paar develops, produces and distributes highly accurate laboratory instruments and process measuring systems, and provides custom-tailored automation and robotic solutions.

It is the world leader in the measurement of density, concentration and CO2 and in the field of Rheometry. Other areas of specialty are: Viscometry, Polarimetry, Refractometry, Microwave Sample Preparation & Synthesis, Chemical and Mechanical Surface and Nanostructure Analysis.

With over 2200 employees at the headquarters in Graz (Austria) and the 25 sales subsidiaries worldwide, Anton Paar ensure that their products live up to their excellent reputation. The core competence of the company – high-precision production – and close contact to the scientific community form the basis for the quality of Anton Paar’s instruments.

A strong sales network in more than 110 countries guarantees customers rapid support and answers to their application and service queries.

Innovation is the basis for progress and every year Anton Paar invests more than 20 percent of the annual turnover in R&D.

Anton Paar Limited, a subsidiary of Anton Paar GmbH, provides sales, application support and service to users across the UK and Ireland.

With an office in St Albans (UK) and Dublin (Ireland) and a team of over 30 dedicated employees, Anton Paar Limited aims to provide first-class service at every stage in the customer relationship, ensuring our products live up to their excellent reputation.

Anton Paar Ltd
Unit F, The Courtyard
St Albans
AL4 0LA
UK

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