Chemtrix, Flowid & Buchem are proud to announce their collaboration on a joint project in the area of flow chemistry. Buchem specializes in the development, manufacture & worldwide sales of chemicals for the laboratory, hospital & chemical markets, with a main focus on production scales up to 1000 kg per year. In 2015, Buchem encountered a need to fill the gap between R&D & bulk production in order to maintain their expertise & reliability in selling high quality products, whilst guaranteeing sustainable benefits for both their customers & suppliers.

The Scope of the Project: The project focus was to improve the safety, labor time & product quality associated with an existing multi-step batch process that was at the time operating at the kg/day scale. Starting with an outsourced feasibility study, because internal infrastructure was not available at that time, the reaction was assessed under continuous flow conditions by Chemtrix & demonstrated to be a viable option for a key reaction step. Combining the advantages of batch with continuous flow, Buchem implemented an integrated set-up engineered by Flowid which played to the strengths of both techniques.

At the heart of the system was a 170 ml Plantrix® flow reactor containing silicon carbide (SiC) reactor modules, selected for their chemical compatibility towards the challenging process & continuous mixing, a 20 L Buchi rotavapor & a 50 L glass reactor. Partner Flowid engineered a fully integrated, remote-controlled solution which delivers the chemical feeds & controls the process temperature without needing to access the fume cabinet during operation, greatly increasing operator safety & reducing the labor intensity of the process. The system design was also forward thinking, employing a modular, plug & play concept, which allows for adaptation/extension in the set-up to accommodate different projects.

Having successfully implemented continuous flow technology at both the research & production-scale, Buchem have found benefits associated with continuous manufacturing to vary depending on the project type & phase, but for process development & commercialization, they have found advantages to include;

• Higher productivity, smaller equipment & facilities

• Reduced material inventory (work in progress/final product)

• Better process control & robustness (less batch variation)

• Flexibility of batch size (response to changing demands)

This collaboration was a great success for all 3 parties. As Mathias Guggisberg (MSc) says: “By combining our professional skills, which included the efficient installation & engineering from Flowid, the feasibility assessment & reactor design from Chemtrix & the Customer application & synthetic knowledge from Buchem, this was a beautiful project that was successful & accelerated through the cooperation.” Working together with Flowid & Chemtrix, Buchem was able to realize a small-footprint, flexible, continuous flow system with an increased production capacity at the multi-tonne scale compared to the existing approach. Having proven the advantages for this challenging case, the technology was subsequently brought in-house at the R&D-scale by Buchem and is currently offered as a service for third parties at an R&D, Pilot & production-scale!