Published On: Fri, Sep 30th, 2011

A New Solution to Optimize Continuous Chemistry

The desire to develop new and improved chemical processes that optimize resource usage has resulted in intensive work towards the

development of continuous flow reactors. Fast optimization of these systems can be a difficult, repetitive and time-consuming process due to the time taken to analyze off-line samples. METTLER TOLEDO’s ReactIR™ coupled to a DS Micro Flow Cell is the ideal way to dramatically reduce the time taken to optimize these systems.

Benefits of flow chemistry
Modern flow reactors have many advantages over traditional batch reactors. Reaction conditions that may be challenging to achieve in a batch reactor can be easier and safer to realize and operate in a flow reactor. For example, a reaction where the temperature far exceeds the boiling point of the solvent can be easily run due to the flow reactor’s ability to contain pressure. This, coupled with the improved mixing properties of a flow reactor, gives a greater choice of conditions and reagents, allowing flow reactors to deliver products with better yields and fewer impurities.

Challenging task
The fast optimization of a chemical reaction using a flow reactor is not always simple. It is a repetitive process where conditions and flow rates are altered, a sample collected and an offline analysis performed. Clearly, a more optimized approach would be to provide instant feedback to changes made, providing faster and easier optimization.

A recent collaboration with Professor Steven Ley at the University of Cambridge has resulted in the development of a reliable solution to quickly and easily optimize a flow reaction system. A DS Micro Flow Cell, coupled to a ReactIR™ instrument, makes the real time optimization of a flow reactor a reality. Control parameters can be adjusted and the ReactIR™ system immediately measures the impact of those changes. The formation of products, by-products and reactive intermediates can be followed and the information used to make ‘on the fly’ adjustments to gain steady-state conditions as quickly as possible, saving valuable time and materials.

Patricia Hicks

Mettler-Toledo AutoChem, Inc.


METTLER TOLEDO specializes in the area of precision instruments for professional use. METTLER TOLEDO laboratory instruments are used in research, scientific, drug discovery, and quality control labs, amongst many others in the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and cosmetics industries. METTLER TOLEDO comprehensive industrial solutions cover the various steps in a host of manufacturing processes at many of the same customers that laboratory serves. Solutions range from receiving raw materials through various manufacturing processes, in-line process control and end-of-line packaging control, to logistics and shipping. Increasingly, these solutions are fully integrated into the customer’s IT environment, helping automate their workflows. In food retail, our offering for fresh food management ranges from receiving and pre-packaging, to in-store solutions for self-service departments, deli counters, and checkout terminals.