Neal Munyebvu, Technical Support Specialist, Syrris

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Lab scale continuous flow chemistry: Views from a nervous chemist

By on May 1st, 2018 in Flow chemistry

In my role as Flow Chemistry Technical Specialist, I regularly install Asia Flow Chemistry Systems in sites around the world, and part of that process often involves running training sessions on flow chemistry and their new equipment. Whenever I find myself discussing flow chemistry with traditional batch chemists during these training sessions, their faces are often a mix of several emotions.

One of those emotions is nervousness – probably from having had to convince their lab professors, lab managers, and colleagues to invest in something different.

However, the overwhelming feeling is excitement and eagerness to know more and to figure out how they can transfer their current processes from batch to flow quickly, cheaply, and with as little effort required to learn how to get to grips with the equipment as possible.

A pump, tubes, and a mixing junction

When you break it down, flow chemistry is not as scary a prospect as it might seem. Looking through schematics in journals, complex product brochures, and photos in your favorite chemistry magazine showing complicated industrial set-ups can make it look all too complicated. We understand that – our R&D100 Award-winning Asia Flow Chemistry System has 15 different modules to choose from!

All you really need to do ‘flow chemistry’ is a pump, some tubes, and a mixing junction.

Adapting continuous flow chemistry to your needs

However, as chemists, we want the best possible reactions. Just putting these parts together isn’t enough – we need smoother, more continuous flow. We need our reactions to be heated or cooled for varying amounts of time and most importantly we want them to be safe.

How are we supposed to configure our system to incorporate these conditions as easily as possible? Ideally, the most limiting part of our experiment should be the chemistry and not the capability of the equipment.

With the Asia Flow Chemistry System these conditions can be added to, or removed from, your flow chemistry system in the same way as creating or deleting a shortcut on your PC:

  • Want temperature Control? – Add an Asia Heater
  • Want to run reactions under pressure? – Add an Asia Pressure Controller
  • Want temperature but not pressure control? – Just add an Asia Heater and take away the Pressure controller
  • Want to simply add a Syringe Pump to an existing system? – That’s fine. The flexibility is a huge bonus for chemists who are looking for an easy way to re-configure their system in minutes.

Being safe in continuous flow

The safety aspect is something new users really want to understand. What extra precautions need to be taken compared to batch processes?

The answer is generally “nothing extra, just do the same as usual: a fume hood and a well-considered risk assessment”, but many chemists think I’m leaving something out.

The most skeptical of chemists struggle to believe it is just that easy and it really is. The confidence to start working with the equipment in the way they want is the biggest hump. After that, the actual chemistry part seems to come easy…

Click the button below to discover more about the basics of flow chemistry and the various applications chemists are performing using Asia Flow Chemistry systems.

Discuss adapting your batch chemistry to continuous flow

Want to discuss adapting your batch chemistry to continuous flow? Simply fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you.

About Neal Munyebvu (MChem)

As a Flow Chemistry Technical Specialist for the Syrris Support Team, Neal is responsible for installing Asia Flow Chemistry Systems in sites around the world, helping chemists overcome issues, and enabling chemists to get the most out of their flow chemistry equipment.

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