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Continuous ‘Flow’ Technology

What is flow chemistry?

In flow chemistry, a chemical reaction is set up as a continuously flowing stream rather than in repeated batch wise production. Flow chemistry is a well-established technique for use at a large production scales when manufacturing bulk quantities of a given material (>100,000 tonnes per year). However, it is increasingly challenging to develop and implement continuous processes at smaller and smaller scales of production.

Continuous flow reactors are typically tube like and manufactured from non-reactive materials such as stainless steel, Hastelloy, glass, ceramics or polymers. Mixing methods include diffusion alone (if the diameter of the reactor is small e.g. <1 mm, such as in microreactors) and static mixers. Continuous flow reactors allow good control over reaction conditions including heat transfer, time and mixing.

The residence time of the reagents in the reactor (i.e. the amount of time that the reaction is heated or cooled) is calculated from the volume of the reactor and the flow rate through it:

Residence time = Reactor Volume / Flow Rate

Therefore, to achieve a longer residence time, reagents can be pumped more slowly and/or a larger volume reactor used.

How does Coflore technology work

Coflore reactors are multi-stage flow reactors that deliver good plug flow and mixing over a wide range of operating conditions. They are available in a range of sizes from laboratory to industrial scale.

The Coflore design employs a patented mixing technology where free moving agitators within the reactor promote mixing when the reactor body is subjected to lateral shaking. This generates intense mixing without the need for rotating shafts, mixing baffles or mechanical seals. Problems of centrifugal separation (when two phases are present) are also eliminated.

Coflore processing advantages

The active, dynamic mixing delivered by Coflore technology decouples the flow rate and tube length from mixing. This results in much shorter overall reactor tube length compared to statically mixed systems which rely on pumping energy to produce mixing. In a Coflore system, varying the flow rate can be used to vary the residence time without the need to lengthen or shorten the overall reactor. The intense mixing which is perpendicular to the flow path produces excellent plug flow environments with correspondingly high levels of control of the desired chemistry and less start up and shutdown wastage.

Flow chemistry overview  What is continuous processing and why is it important? Economic benefits Chemistry benefits Challenges to implementing Flow Chemistry

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