The Shift from Batch to Continuous-Flow Reactors

Up-flow 5403 Tubular Reactor System with 300 mL heated volume, one purge line, one gas feed, two liquid feeds, product cooling condenser, and automated 2-phase back pressure regulator. An automated liquid sampler captures representative samples at a user-programmable interval.
5403 Tubular Reactor System with automated liquid sampler.

Continuous-flow reactions have long been practiced in commercial operations such as petroleum refining and within many other chemical production facilities. More recently it has become common to see tubular reactors replacing or augmenting batch, stirred-tank operations being performed in the pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries, both in laboratory and production operations. There are a number of reasons for this shift; among them are:

  • Flow reactors are easier to automate and permit sequential changes. Parametric changes such as temperature, pressure, flow, and residence time can be performed at will, leading to possibility of real-time analysis
  • Multi-step reactions and reactors are possible
  • Improved control of mixing, temperature, and residence time improves selectivity
    • Mixing can occur more rapidly, as it now occurs in a smaller space
    • With increased surface-to-volume ratios, tubular, continuous-flow reactors have superior heat transfer properties and temperature control
    • Residence time becomes a function of flow rates making these changes available for rapid, immediate evaluation
  • Increased safety occurs when smaller amount of reactants and products are present at any given time
  • Amount of product becomes a function of time, not larger equipment
  • Scale up of laboratory tubular reactors may be simpler than scaling stirred tanks
  • Higher operating pressures are more easily attainable in reactors of smaller diameter
  • Tubular reactors from Parr Instrument Company are designed to allow the use of traditional and non-traditional solid catalysts

Learn more here or fill out the form below to have the customer service team at Parr Instrument Company contact you to discuss your next project and how to best equip your lab for three-phase catalytic investigations of continuous-flow reactions.

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