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SELECTBIO Conferences Microfluidics & Flow Chemistry 2019


Transformative Flow Chemistry: Continuous Opportunities for Continuous-Flow

Volker Hessel, Professor, The University of Adelaide

Flow Chemistry has brought chemical reactions to considerable advances. Pharmaceutical manufacturers and their legislative authority (FDA) were the first to decide consequently for continuous production and more has been reported in specialty and fine chemicals.

The process design of flow chemistry remains prime innovation challenge and is not completed by far; certainly not what concerns pilot scale. An intensified flow separation is largely missing. Similarly, implementation of analytical characterization needs to be enlarged and driven by real-world needs, e.g. process-analytical technologies in the frame of pharma’s quality monitoring. For both and more process issues, conceptual and experimental studies are presented. Processes scale with ‘opportunities’ and those are opened by favorable sustainability, which is costs and environmental issues. That ‘cash-flow’ will be given.

The lecture will also point to the future – focusing on ‘flow opportunities’ themselves. Different continents, different needs: Australia and its remote location is a good example for a re-inventory of flow chemistry opportunities (and will host in 2020 the IMRET Conference for the first time).

The Australian Space Agency has finally settled in Adelaide. Flow-enabled space manufacturing provides opportunities for smart satellites, space missions, and future colonies.
Back on earth, wealthy countries face the issue of increasing share of elderly people, with higher age, and higher expectations on their evening of life. Aged Care gives already now a significant push to health economy. More is needed than automated flow machines which make medicines. There is room for a game change in the whole medical treatment.
Food and agriculture form a substantial part of Australia’s economy. Biomass conversions to valuable products, in their systems engineering, have complexity beyond typical organic reactions. Food (FMCG) industry produces since longer in parts continuous; there is fully-continuous light beer and even wine has been made partly or largely continuous. There are food chances for a change from continuous to continuous-flow.

Yet, while the latter sounds just a smart wordplay, this is the real opportunity and door-opener = the true transformation. Intensification on its own is not always enough to enter business. Industry transformation needs to be in the view of process technologists, and ‘flow’ has many potential opportunities, beyond chemistry. Sustainability in this sense has a social dimension, for well-being and health- and social economics.

Such transformation asks for truly inter- and transdisciplinary research, which is (much) more than a couple of scientists from different disciplines working here and there together. Tomorrow’s flow chemist is best exposed to artificial intelligence/machine learning, sensing, bio process technology (which is found much too scarce), newest avenues (in health, food, …), and more.

Started own researches in those new ‘flow avenues’ will be shown.

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