Butyl LithiumJeoffrey van den Berg
The major industrial applications of Butyl Lithium are for the rubber and plastic market and moreover as tool in the organic synthesis of API.
Drawbacks of using this chemistry in stirred tank type of vessels are: the fear of fire and explosions, not being able to control the reaction and not being able to scale up.
We believe this can be overcome by using our SpinPro Reactor, reactions with Butyllithium can be executed safer, while being in total control of the reaction at every moment and can be scaled up linearly easily, whilst reducing Capex and Opex costs substantially.
Capex reduction can be up to 40%, due to the reduced reaction volume and reduced safety requirements. Opex reduction can be achieved by using less operators for the same production amount. Also energy costs are reduced significantly, due to the ability of producing at ambient temperature opposed to cryogenic temperatures.
Flowid’s SpinPro Reactor is a highly controlled environment, due the high heat and high mass transfer (both because of high shear rates). Under the influence of these high shear forces BuLi aggregates will be broken up and in combination with very controllable and homogeneous temperature profiles, in the SpinPro compared to a batch reactor, hotspots, and thus byproduct formation is minimised.
By breaking up the aggregates the SpinPro is able to reach much higher reaction rates as the aggregates slow down the reaction. Therefore the process can be intensified to run at elevated temperatures – making a stable lithiate, producing fewer byproducts. The use of cryogenic conditions is unnecessary, because the SpinPro Reactor is operated at ambient temperature.
Biggest fear in the Butyl Lithium chemistry is the occurrence of hotspots in a non homogeneous mixture in the reactor vessel, which can cause a runaway reaction. The other upside for safety is of course the small reaction volume (SpinPro R300= 130mL) and the ability to terminate the reaction whenever necessary by terminating the feed.
The possibility of using ambient temperatures makes scaling up much easier and economically much more interesting.
SpinPro technology can be linearly scaled by adding more rotor-stator stages on an axis, whereas stirred tank type of vessels will run into problems as there will be less heat transfer area, with more reactive volume.
For additional information and demonstrations feel free to contact Wouter Stam or Marion Timmermans.
Read the Specialty Chemicals Magazine article about BuLi reactions performed in a SpinPro reactor:
SpinPro Reactors are available in different sizes and configurations:
Examples relevant for Buthyl Lithium chemistry: