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April 18, 2012
Build Your Own Reactive Reactors
I'd be interested in hearing people's thoughts on this technology, from the Cronin group at the University of Glasgow. (Here's a press release, and a piece from Chemistry World if you can't get in to Nature Chemistry).
They're adapting 3-D printing technology to make small reaction vessels out of silicone polymer. The design of these can be changed to directly alter the mixing, timing, and stoichiometry of reactions, and they've also gone as far as incorporating palladium catalyst into the walls of the newly formed reactors, making them active for hydrogenation reactions.
I can see this eventually being useful for multistep flow chemistry, a micro-scale analog of the sorts of systems that Steve Ley's group has published on. Perhaps an array of identical vessels could be used in parallel for scale-up if the design is taking advantage of the small size of the chambers (again, as is done in industrial flow applications). The speed with which new doped polymeric materials could be prototyped seems to be a real advantage as well, which should allow experimentation with immobilized reagents and catalysts which would be incompatible with each other in solution. Other ideas?
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