Flow chemistry is an established technique for manufacturing on a large scale, but flow chemistry at a laboratory scale is a growing industry due to advances in newly developed pump technologies from Tacmina Corporation.

An expanding field in research facilities around the world, flow chemistry for continuous manufacturing utilizes ultra-trace amounts and inline reactions to be carried out continuously, as opposed to batch production which often requires large amounts of storage space and energy. Flow chemistry at lab scale offers many advantages to researchers and ultimately manufacturers such as decreased operating and developmental costs, increased safety, shortened timeframes, rapid scaling, and more. Flow chemistry is used to develop new technologies for a wide range of industries from renewable energy to pharmaceuticals and more.

Flow chemistry experiments and research require:

  • High pressure to keep the reaction area free of debris

  • Ultra-precision metering of trace amounts to ensure quality of results

  • A closed system that eliminates contact with air or moisture

  • Continuous flow reaction as a trial for mass production

In the past, microreactors were the only method available for flow chemistry experimentation. Microreactors have limitations such as clogging from particles, corrosion, and difficulties when scaling up. A small-scale pump system is now available, making flow chemistry more accessible than ever before offering accuracy, continuous operation, closed system, affordability, reliability, and easy maintenance.

Key ConsiderationSyringe PumpsPlunger PumpsDiaphragm Pumps
AccuracyYesYesYes
Continuous operationProblematicHigh pulsationYes
ReliabilityHas difficulty with continuous high pressureYesYes
Closed systemSeals can fail enabling moisture and air get inSeals can fail enabling moisture and air get inYes
MaintenanceDifficult to perform, must send back to manufacturerModerateYes
PriceExpensiveModerateAffordable

Accuracy:

Pumps are available on the market offering the ability to finely configure flow rates in units as small as 0.01mL/min. with repeatability to 1/10th of 1% from event to event. The ability to quickly start and stop and adjust the flow rate are key attributes a pump used for flow chemistry must provide.

Continuous Operation:

Pulsation-free, continuous flow is a requirement for successful lab scale flow chemistry. Any fluctuation in the injection of various elements can cause the final product to drift out of tolerance.

Reliability:

Providing continuous operation and reliable flow rates for long periods of time is another requirement of flow chemistry experimentation. Pumps are available on the market that offer no decrease in flow rate even after more than 5,000 hours of continuous operation.

Closed System:

Often, reactions that take place in flow chemistry experiments can be altered or damaged by interaction with air or degraded by liquid leakage. A sealed structure without mechanical seals (failure points) helps preserve the integrity of flow chemistry experimentation.

Maintenance:

Corrosion can be a problem when performing flow chemistry at lab scale. A pump that offers materials that are easy to clean and maintain, and that offer various liquid end materials to suit the liquid being used is a key feature for an effective flow chemistry lab scale setup.

Price:

Any experimental laboratory is working within the confines of a budget. Finding a pump that meets all the technical criteria as well as priced as affordable has been a challenge in the past.

Tacmina’s Q Series High Pressure Smoothflow Pump was developed and is manufactured specifically for this type of laboratory experimentation where precision down to ultra-trace amounts, a closed system, repeatability, easy maintenance, and affordability are important factors.

Another benefit to utilizing Tacmina’s Q Series Smoothflow Pump for Flow Chemistry experimentation is scaling up from research to production is easy because the pump technology is the same throughout the entire Smoothflow lineup. The performance is linear so there is no need to reevaluate the pump, a critical component of the process, when scaling up for production.