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Microreactors & Process Intensification

Microreactors Make it Big: Can Micro- or Milli-Reactors be Used in Multi-Ton Production Plants?

| Author / Editor: Anne Kaaden, Dr.-Ing. Joachim Heck* / Dominik Stephan

In the detail: The integration of the continuously running Miprowa production reactor into the existing building infrastructure at Shaoxing Eastlake in China near Shanghai.
In the detail: The integration of the continuously running Miprowa production reactor into the existing building infrastructure at Shaoxing Eastlake in China near Shanghai. (Source: Ehrfeld; [M] Beeger)

My, how you've grown! Micro- and millireactors bring process intensification in specialty chemistry and pharmacy — One of the current challenges facing the process industry is a change in product portfolio away from commodities to customer-specific specialties. The paradigm shift in process technology production from the batch principle to the continuous flow process based on micro- and millireactors offers great advantages in many cases and is now showing initial success on an industrial scale.

Flow chemistry or microreaction technology (MRT) is a technology platform that has the potential to offer tremendous benefits in many process engineering applications. MRT is able to replace discontinuous batch processes with a continuous process in which reactions take place in structures of greatly reduced size. The main components are mixers with excellent mixing speed and heat exchangers with high heat transfer rates. Added to this is the associated support infrastructure, such as sensors, valves, pumps or analytics.

With the help of microreaction technology, complex or challenging reactions can be precisely controlled, which can, for example, help to increase the safety of chemical production. In addition, plants can be built smaller, realized with lower investment and operated more efficiently. A particular advantage lies in the high specific surface to volume ratio of the micromodules, resulting in excellent heat and mass transport properties.

* * A. Kaaden is Key Account Manager, Dr. Heck Managing Director at Ehrfeld Mikrotechnik, Wendelsheim/Germany

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