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Potentially Hazardous Processes and Production in Microreactors

A special field of research at the Fraunhofer ICT is the development of microreactor processes for safe management of reaction systems that are potentially explosive or otherwise hazardous. We have 50 years of expertise in the area of explosives technology as well as the associated infrastructure and equipment. The advantages offered by microreaction technology make it particularly suited for use in processes with an increased hazard potential – such as removing strong reaction heat or handling toxic, explosive and other unstable products and intermediates
in small hold-ups under short residence times.

Alongside its various laboratory processes, the Fraunhofer ICT has also developed a special multipurpose plant, which permits both the continuous synthesis of liquid, explosive materials and their subsequent, continuous processing in the relevant production quantities. At the heart of this plant are microreactors, which have been specially developed for high-throughput applications for synthesis and downstream processing. Due to their modular design, these components can be quickly converted for the specific production campaign. The appropriate microreactors are integrated into the production plant to match the synthesis product and throughput required. The plant has a wide range of safety features and every aspect is controlled and monitored remotely.

The multipurpose microreactor plant is used for the production of a variety of explosive substances. Typical throughputs are in the range of several hundred grammes per minute. Compared to classical production processes, this plant offers increased process safety with sometimes dramatic reductions in processing time, improvements in product purity and stability (incl. pharmaceutical standards) as well as significant savings in operational expenditures.

Production of hazardous substances in remotely controlled microreactor processes.

Selected publications:
S. Löbbecke, J. Antes, D. Boskovic, H. Krause, N. Lutz, T. Türcke, W. Schweikert, Analysis and Improvement of Strong Exothermic Nitrations in Microreactors, Trans IChemE 81 (2003), Part A, 760

W. Ferstl, M. Schwarzer, J. Antes, H. Krause, S. Löbbecke, Synthesis and Conversion of Diazomethan in Microreactors, Proceed. 8th Int. Conference on Microreaction Technology IMRET 8, 10. – 14.02.2005, Atlanta, USA

S. Löbbecke, J. Antes, W. Ferstl, D. Bošković, T. Türcke, M. Schwarzer, H. Krause, Microreactors for Processing of Hazardous and Explosible Reactions, IChemE Symposium Series No. 153: Proceed. 12th International Symposium Loss Prevention and Safety Promotion in the Process Industries, 22. - 24.05.2007, Edinburgh, Scotland

W. Ferstl, M. Schwarzer, S. Löbbecke, E. Fritz-Langhals, J. Stohrer, Process optimization of a catalyzed bleach oxidation for the production of functionalized aldehydes using microreaction technology, Chem. Eng. J. 2008, 135, 292



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