CSIRO launches flow chemistry facility

CSIRO launches flow chemistry facility

CSIRO has launched ‘FloWorks’, its new Centre for Industrial Flow Chemistry, in Clayton, Victoria. The purpose-built, 410 m2 facility is intended to provide cutting-edge research into flow chemistry capability, making it more accessible to the chemical manufacturing industry.

The director of the new centre, Dr Christian Hornung, said flow chemistry offers a cleaner, smarter and more efficient way of making chemicals. He explained, “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.”

Contrary to traditional batch chemistry methods, starting materials are fed into a reactor where the chemical reaction takes place in a continuous stream — a method that has proven to be a more efficient and cost-effective way of producing chemicals.

Multistage processing, which eliminates the need for manual handling of chemicals in between steps, improves safety, while inline purification makes the system more streamlined. Smart monitoring and online analysis are used to automate the manufacturing process.

So where does FloWorks fit into all this? As explained by Dr Hornung, the facility will offer access to CSIRO’s flow chemistry technology — from small-scale discovery tools to large-scale industrial reactors — to industry as well as academic researchers.

“So we’re looking at the chemical development as well as the technology from the very early discovery stages, going through a scale-up process to the final pilot scale, where we then can do the tech transfer back to the client’s site where he can do the manufacturing of their product,” said Dr Hornung.

“It’s going to be a collaborative space, and in the future we’re looking forward to having even more engagement with industry and for this technology to be taken up by chemical manufacturers in all areas.”

For information on how to access FloWorks, visit https://research.csiro.au/floworks/home/training-support/.

Image caption: FloWorks Director Dr Christian Hornung works with an industrial-scale reactor at the centre.

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