Did you know that AM Technology was first incorporated way back on the 29th December 2000 as Ashe Morris Ltd?
Over the last 21 years, AM Technology has transformed from a grant-funded R&D company operating out of our founders' garage to a fully-fledged manufacturer of our Coflore continuous flow reactors.
Mike sat down with co-founder Robert Ashe, to get an insight into the last 21 years of AM Technology.
How did Ashe Morris Ltd start?
RA: For the last 500 years or so, the world has been controlling the temperature of reactions by controlling the vessel jacket temperature but there is another way to go about this - you can vary the area of the vessel jacket. In this way, you can feed in a set temperature and then if you need to tweak the vessel temperature, for example if the reaction starts to exotherm, then you can simply increase the area of the jacket. In this way, you can very accurately spot the rate of heat evolution within a process - so much so that you can even spot heat generation from bugs growing.
This led to the development of our Coflux reactors, that incorporated improved temperature control and process analytical features, and significantly improved the performance of batch processes.
What led to AM Technology focusing on flow reactors?
RA: 2004-2008 was a particularly tough time for the pharmaceutical industry with several high-profile drugs coming off-patent, coupled with the financial crash. At this time, the growth of new pharmaceutical plants slowed drastically. We recognised that flow chemistry was going to play a vital role in the resurgence of pharmaceutical manufacturing once the market began to pick up. At the outset of our flow reactor development, we had very little money and actually worked out of my garage. We actually needed 3PH power to test our equipment so I had 3PH power installed in my garage!!
What came next after R&D in the garage?
RA: We were getting very promising results from our R&D and soon moved into an office & lab space at The Heath, in Runcorn - not too far from where AM Technology are located now. However, disaster struck after a year when one of our neighbours had a fire that destroyed the building. We then moved into an office space nearby where our lab was actually located within the coffee room which obviously had some limits on the testing that we could carry out at the time!
How has AMT changed over the last decade?
RA: In 2011 we successfully applied for a grant from AMSCI, and raised money from private investors, which allowed us to move into the current AM Technology building. At this point in time, we had developed the Coflore ACR and ATR reactors and the production-scale RTR reactor was in the final stages of R&D. Our main focus at this time was to offer flow systems that were realistic alternatives to batch reactors. This meant that they had to be able to handle a wide-range of chemistry, rather than be limited to niche applications, and inevitably the reactors needed to be able to handle heterogenous chemistry - specifically insolube reagents and catalysts. The Coflore systems tick both of those boxes, and it is fantastic to be in a position now where we can see our systems being used across a range of different industries!
In 2020, Gary Eccleson was appointed Managing Director of AM Technology, having been with the company since 2009 as Engineering Design Manager. Mike asked Gary what he thinks the next few years have in store for AMT:
GE: Over the past few years, the climate crisis has risen to the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. Governments have finally started to act with ambitious initiatives such as the “Net Zero Emissions by 2050” target. A recent report by the IEA stated “To get on this track [towards Net Zero], government and industry efforts need to address CO2 emissions from chemical production”. Continuous manufacturing in flow is a sure-fire way to move the chemical industry towards lower emissions – our Coflore RTR for example, requires much lower peak heating and cooling energy requirements than an equivalent batch reactor. We look forward to playing our part in cleaning up the chemical industry and continuing to support our customers as they transition to cleaner chemical processes that provide them with a competitive edge over traditional “dirty” batch reactors.
If you want to find out more about Coflore flow reactors, please send an email to email@example.com and we will be happy to help!