Flow Chemistry

An innovative tool for continuous processing.

Continuous production techniques have been used by the chemical industry for a long time, but for many chemistries batch reactors have been the norm. This can be due to numerous factors including scale, nature of the chemistry, flexibility requirements or the cost of converting the initial laboratory synthesis and engineering a continuous production system. Many of these factors can be overcome utilising recently developed technology... flow chemistry.

Flow chemistry was initially developed as a laboratory tool to show that complex chemistry can be done in a continuous process with multiple synthetic steps performed in sequence. However, it has now been established that this technology can be readily transferred to production facilities and scaled for commercial use. Conditions established in the laboratory can be utilised in production, without substantial alterations.

Using a flow processing approach, initial capital outlay is reduced compared to traditional batch reactors, and scale-ups can be easily achieved, making flow chemistry a viable approach for many chemical transformations performed by manufacturers.

Greener, more efficient, for less cost.

Flow processing makes chemical production safer, more reproducible and scalable, improves environmental performance and reduces costs.

Compared to traditional batch production methods, flow offers many advantages, including:

  • improved energy efficiency
  • reduced solvent use
  • precise control over reaction conditions
  • better product yields
  • significantly less waste
  • reduced floor space usage

Examples of Transformations performed using Flow Chemistry

Homogeneous catalysis

  • Suzuki reaction
  • Heck reaction
  • Grubbs ring forming

Multicomponent reactions

  • Passerini 3CR
  • Biginelli 3CR
  • Ugi 4CR

Deprotection chemistry

  • BOC deprotection
  • MOM deprotection and intra
  • epoxide opening
  • Ester saponification

Ring formations

  • Grubbs ring forming
  • Ugi followed by ring closure to benzimidazole
  • Diels Alder
  • 1,3,4 Oxadiazole formation
  • Fischer indole synthesis
  • 1,3 Thiazole formation
  • Pyrazole formation

Oxidations and reductions

  • Borohydride reduction
  • Borane reduction of a heterocycle
  • Reductive amination
  • Dess Martin alcohol oxidation

General Synthesis

  • Aldol reaction
  • Biphasic Schotten-Baumann
  • HBTU amide coupling
  • Elimination of an alcohol to alkene
  • Esterification of an alcohol
  • Wittig reaction
  • Nucleophilic aromatic substitution
  • SN1 reaction
  • Mitsunobu reaction
  • N-Alkylation

Polymer Synthesis

  • RAFT
  • polyacrylamides


For more information on how flow processing may benefit your operation, please contact:

Ian James
Sector Specialist - Fine Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals
03 9905 0303

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