Monday, 28 March 2011

Microreactors gain interest

This blog has already commented on the attraction of microreactors for greener chemical production, noting recently that one of the winners of the ICIS Innovation Awards - Oxford Catalysts - won it for microreactor developments.  Now market research firm Frost & Sullivan has released a fascinating study into the uptake of this technology.

Oxford Catalysts' microreactor
Says Frost & Sullivan: "The advent of microreactors makes it easier to conduct one-step reactions. Hence, the conventional chemical reactions that produce by-products and waste products can easily be utilized in microreactors to eliminate these alternate reactions, thereby preparing high-quality products.

"Moreover, the fast reaction rates ensure higher yields of up to 100% with high quality and no side reactions. Product quality is enhanced through the accurate control of operation parameters such as pressure, temperature and space velocities."

Oxford Catalysts' raising of a further £21m for future development bodes well for its efforts in biofuels and Fischer-Tropsch reactions in microreactors. Many other players are looking at the technology, which, says the report, has high potential. It points out though that there are risks in implementation:

"The scope for microreactors in fuel and chemical processing is high. However, the non-availability of any commercial demonstration unit that can be retrofitted to an existing facility prevents manufacturers from taking a huge financial risk in their facilities."

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