CSIRO has launched its “FloWorks” Centre for Industrial Flow Chemistry at its Clayton site in Melbourne’s south east.
The purpose-built, 410m2 facility will provide cutting-edge research into flow chemistry capability with a view to making it more accessible to the chemical manufacturing industry.
Dr Christian Hornung, senior research scientist with CSIRO’s manufacturing sector and Director of the new centre, said flow chemistry offers a cleaner and more efficient way of making chemicals.
“The benefits of using the flow process include reduced reaction times and plant space, which equate to less energy cost, more efficient processes, reduced waste and a much safer environment,” Dr Hornung said.
The flow process eliminates the need of traditional batch chemistry approach as starting materials are fed into a reactor where the chemical reaction takes place in a continuous stream.
This multi-stage processing requires no manual handling of chemicals in between steps, which greatly improves safety, while in-line purification makes the system more streamlined.
Smart monitoring and on-line analysis is used to automate the manufacturing process.
Industry partner, Zoran Manev from Boron Molecular, uses flow chemistry at his Noble Park plant to manufacture fine chemicals for Australian and international pharmaceutical and materials science clients.
“CSIRO helped us integrate flow chemistry into our operations. We use our unit to develop a number of processes or convert them from batch to flow,” Mr Manev said.
“Flow chemistry enables us to make purer molecules, so we have fewer side products and fewer issues when we scale up to manufacture from small scale to larger tonne lots. With flow we’re using far less solvents and energy and discarding far less waste material into the environment than we would otherwise.”
Dr Hornung said FloWorks incorporates all of CSIRO’s flow chemistry equipment, allowing for a complete package spanning from early discovery stages to industrial scale-up and tech transfer.
He said the new collaborative space will promote and generate greater engagement with industry and other research bodies.
“I see flow technology eventually being taken up by chemical manufacturers in all areas,” Dr Hornung concluded.