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Advancing the chemical sector: AM Technology joins major cross-disciplinary partnership

AM Technology are proud to announce their recent partnership with the Imperial Consortium, offering our continuous flow expertise to facilitate vital research that will advance the chemical sector.

Led jointly by BASF and Imperial College London, the consortium involves several strategic partnerships with industrial innovators within the chemical manufacturing arena, combining sector-specific knowledge with Imperial’s world-leading research ability to uncover new efficiencies surrounding advanced industry production.

This recent union provides a collaborative space in which research will aim to advance chemical manufacturing through digital technologies, data science and automation. The continuous flow technology of AM Technology’s flow reactor will be employed to assist in meeting the aims of the consortium, which is to transform the industry.

It’s current focus to make the manufacturing of fine chemicals more efficient, resilient, and sustainable. We are proud to be offering our expertise, resources, and manufacturing equipment to propel the research.

Advancing chemical industrial practices

Performance, sustainability, and resilience are all essential focuses involved in the new strategy to advance the modern chemical production as we see it today. The collaboration, which began at the beginning of this month, poses several areas of improvement, including a greater focus on:

  1. Improving the sustainability of the industry

  2. Encouraging the use of more sustainable materials

  3. Building stable production processes

All of which have been proved to be achieved through advanced flow chemistry methods.

The consortium has turned their attention to the requirement for widely accessible, alternative feedstocks. Advocating techniques that make efficient use of energy and employ renewable materials, with the ultimate aim of eliminating fuel-based feedstocks.

Research will focus on strategies to improve the industry’s resilience to supply chain challenges and supply shocks, bringing focus to high distribution facilities and raw material substitutes.

Improving sustainability with continuous flow technology

The consortium places a heavy focus on continuous production methods to improve industry sustainability; a focus aligned with AM Technology’s agenda. Continuous flow has been selected due to its highly efficient, high quality, and safer production capabilities:

“Flow chemistry is inherently more sustainable than batch processing because it makes better use of heat and materials. It can also provide a powerful tool for automating production and the research and development of more sustainable processes. However, there are technical bottlenecks that are holding back its full implementation. Through this new consortium, we will be in a strong position to address these.”

Professor Mimi Hii from Imperial’s Department of Chemistry

At AM Technology, we’ve demonstrated with numerous clients and applications that continuous flow technology can improve sustainability. Continuous flow technology not only reduces energy consumption involved in chemical production but also makes highly efficient use of the overall energy consumed during manufacturing.

The strive towards net zero emissions by 2050 requires a holistic approach that accounts for renewable energy adoption, circular economy practices and innovations in technology. Adoption of flow chemistry is an entry way to optimising chemical production processes to reduce resource consumption and minimize waste. This is achieved by: Production control: Flow chemistry allows precise control over reaction conditions, including heat transfers and mixing, which leads to the most efficient process.

Solvent minimisation: Flow chemistry handles smaller reaction volumes at any one time which maximises solvent use and reduces where suitable, reducing the resource required to produce and dispose of such solvents.

Catalyst efficiency: The control that flow chemistry offers spans over the use of catalysts, with the introduction and mixing of catalysts greatly improved to reduce the quantity required.

Carbon capture and utilisation: Flow reactors are compatible with CCU processes which allow for the reduction of overall greenhouse gas emissions by converting CO2 emissions into valuable chemical products.

Closed loop systems: AM Technology has designed a number of closed loop systems to recycle reactants and reduce waste generation.

Sufficient material usage

Flow chemistry lays the groundwork for the next generation of manufacturing materials. The consortium retorts the shortage of natural gas that led to the sectors need for alternative feedstocks. A point echoed by the core green chemistry principles; a framework which flow chemistry embodies.

We have recently been actively involved in a number of research focus’ which demonstrate flow chemistry’s ability to incorporate bio-based materials, including biocatalysts. Outlining the wider, more innovative compatibilities flow chemistry has with biomaterials provides an understanding of where resources can be further utilised efficiently and waste by products further reduced.

As technology for producing biobased materials advances, flow chemistry becomes an attractive option for economic viability and scalability. Check out our most recent publication in which biocatalytic hydrogenation was achieved using the Coflore ACR, and how this could lead to industrial scale bio-hydrogenation reactions.

Although this is just one instance of biomaterial usage in flow chemistry, the hydrogenation reaction has highlighted the wider opportunity that AM Technology can have in research and innovation. We thoroughly enjoyed working on the research and development of a new catalyst and exploring this novel reaction pathway.

The promise of a bio-based fuel alternative is one such example of where this research can take us, with further possibilities prevalent across chemical material production. In the meantime, not only is continuous flow compatible with renewable biomaterials, at present, it also allows for more sufficient use of the general feedstocks, reducing overall usage.

Combining these production qualities provided by flow ultimately gives research the perfect foundation for exploration into advanced techniques that champion renewable feedstocks and maximise their usage.

continuous flow technology at AM technology's headquarters

Tackling supply chain challenges

The consortium retorts the noticeable vulnerability of existing manufacturing supply chains due to recent commercial, political, and logistical parameters. Although most recent affairs, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine were somewhat unpredictable, they have provided us with the experience required to improve the resilience of existing processes.

Flow reactors themselves are manufactured to operate at steady state, which assists with consistent and predictable production outputs. As well as this, they reduce lead times and mitigate the risk of inconsistent quality. These are all essential features of building a resilient manufacturing process which is equipped to minimise disruptions, shifts in demand and bypass unexpected challenges whilst ensuring quality.

The on-demand production executed from flow chemistry however has a wider benefit to the reshoring of manufacturing. Geopolitical friction has underpinned the flaws of offshore production and flow chemistry is an obvious route to support restoring.

Building a resilient supply chain can be facilitated through the reshoring of processes that were once offshored. This provides easier access to essential materials within the same global area and encourages more local management which greatly improves overall control. We’ve highlighted the essential role that flow chemistry manufacturing has had in the reshoring of supply chains for an uninterrupted, robust and entirely integrated manufacturing process. You can read more about this here.

Building the production process of the future

The partnership – known as Continuous Manufacturing of Industrial Chemicals (IConIC) – includes several industrial innovators, including the Centre for Process Innovation, Mettler Toledo, Autochem, Siemens Process Systems Engineering, Almac and Sterling.

AM Technology are thrilled over their involvement in propelling next-generational advancements, and are proud to have the Coflore Flow Reactors play a valuable part within the innovative research!


“One of today's most important tools for modernizing the pharmaceutical industry is a process known as continuous manufacturing”

Director of the FDA’s Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research,

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