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Working with your reactor vendor to select the best equipment for scale-up: Part-1

Working with your reactor vendor to select the best equipment for scale-up: Part-1

05 Jun 2023

One of the most difficult parts of scale-up is choosing the right reactor to match the reaction chemistry under consideration. Typically at lab scale all reactions start roughly the same: in a chemist’s flask. However, as the scale up to plant numerous configurations are available. Often batch to continuous conversion is attempted alongside in the same project. There are huge upsides to success and yet many projects fail or get severely delayed in this phase. Expensive budgets can be lost as well.

This phase of projects is where a lot of chemical engineering science applies, and yet selecting the perfect reactor configuration can be still an art. This is where working with a good vendor is imperative to fabricate the best possible reactor choice. For example, the figure shows several such configurations that can be a part of a successful reactor design strategy. Ask yourself: Have I explored all possible configurations? Would I know which configuration to select for my particular reaction? Sometimes a few more hours brainstorming on the best configuration can mean months of work saved later and hundreds of thousands of dollars and equivalent man hours.

Further articles in this blog series will try to help end-users make the correct decisions and go on the fastest route to successful scale-up. Some questions to ask yourself before you select a vendor for your reactor and scale-up needs:

  • Does my vendor spend sufficient time with me to select the best reaction configuration for my needs?
  • Is my vendor willing to customize configurations or try to push me into a pigeonhole in his standard catalog?
  • Do I have an option to try a reactor before I purchase it?
  • Do I get access to internal technical experts or just a call center or non-technical sales executives?
  • Does the vendor have past experience designing reactors for similar chemistries?
  • Does the vendor have a good mix of mechanical expertise as well as chemical engineering know-how?