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Chemical Synthesis in Micro structured Reactors

Micro and Nanotechnology is currently an area of rapid growth with a wide range of applications. In the last decade, Micro Reactor Technology (MRT), as a new concept in chemical engineering, has impressively demonstrated the advantages of micro structured devices for chemical reactions, and was subject to several positive reviews in its field. If the two graphs below look similar, a closer look at the x-axis demonstrates the difference between a regular batch, time resolved chemical processes, and a micro structured surface, where the process is space resolved!
120 100 80 60 40 20 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
%

120 100

%

reactant product

80 60 40 20 0 1 2 3 4 5

reactant product

Fig. 1

time [min]

6

space [cm]

The intrinsic advantage of the small dimensions is the extensive control of the reaction parameters through: · An improved surface-area-to-volume ratio On a typical micro reactor surface, this ratio is about 200 cm2cm-3 compared with 1 cm2cm-3 for a 100ml glass flm2cm-3 for a 1 m3 batch reactor. This advantage is demonstrated for control over temperature (Fig. 2) and concentration (Fig. 3) with the simulated neutralization reaction (HCl and NaOH) in a 5 m3 vessel

Fig 2a. Batch: The temperature ranges form 293.15 K (blue) to 303.15 K (red) according to the color scale above, Fig.2b MRT: Reaction of HCl (red, left) and NaOH (blue, left). Local temperatures are given according to the scale (above right) in K (y is the cell thickness and L the channel length). (stirring 500 RPM) and a micro structured

Fig. 2a

Fig. 2b

surface.

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Chemical Synthesis in Micro structured Reactors
This exchange of high heat efficiency allows the performance of high exothermic reactions under isothermal conditions. The development of hot spots and accumulation of reaction heated within the MR are suppressed so that undesirable side reactions and fragmentation are hindered. · Efficient mixing In addition to the heat transfer, mentioned above, mass transport is also considerably improved in MR. Mixing in micro reactors can occur through diffusion in between laminar flow layers. This is visualized in Fig. 3 for the same reaction as in Fig. 2. Batch: concentration equivalents (ranging from 0.8 (blue) to 1.2 (red) according to the color scale top left Fig. 3b. MRT: Compound B is injected (inlet) to a flow of compound A (blue). The green color indicates the 1:1 mixture

Fig. 3b Fig. 3a
· Small reaction volume Process parameter such as pressure, temperature, residence time and flow rate are easily controlled in reactions that take place in small volumes. The hazard potential of strongly exothermic or explosive reactions can also be drastically reduced. This system also provides higher safety with toxic substances or higher operating pressures. These opportunities could be used most favorably in kinetic controlled reaction processes. Fig. 4 shows the classical textbook graph. This meets the most common thinking of organic chemists to discuss product distributions. In this example product C is favored if the activation energy provided to the reaction is limited. Fig 5. Demonstrates the importance of temperature quality to control selectivity under kinetic control of reactions MRT is a perfect tool for fast process engineering to acquire information, which allows a safe and fast transfer to pilot or production scale.

Fig. 4

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Chemical Synthesis in Micro structured Reactors

But the “big picture” of this fascinating technology is a new thinking for production concepts, which supersedes this transfer. MRT means continuous processing (24 hours per day 7 days a week). Depending on demand MR or such subunits can run in parallel (“numbering-up” concept) and therefore no further development activity is needed for a process which is performed in a micro reactor once. Sigma-Aldrich introduced this technology a couple of years ago. An overview of processes based on the advantages of the technology will be given.

Fig. 5

References: • • • • K. Jahnisch, V. Hessel, H. Löwe, M. Baerns, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2004, 43, 406. P Watts, S. Haswell Chem. Eng. Technol. 2005, 28, 290. . T. Schwalbe, V. Autze, G. Wille CHIMIA 2002, 56, 636 T.M. Floyd, M.W. Kopp, S.L. Firebauch, K. F Jensen, M.A. Schmidt Proceedings of IMRET 3, Ed. W. Ehrfeld Springer Verlag, Berlin, . Gemany, 2000, p.171. • R.D. Chambers, M.A. Fox, D. Holling, T. Nakamo. T. Okazoe, G. Sanford Lab. Chip, 2005, 5,191

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