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Multipurpose Flow Chemistry

In flow chemistry, a chemical reaction is run in a continuously flowing stream rather than in batch production. Flow chemistry isn’t new but was previously restricted to large volume chemicals with on purpose manufacturing plants. New equipment and technologies allow to use modular and flexible equipment for custom synthesis of small volume chemicals.
Flow Chem

Key advantages of Flow Chemistry

Technical features of Flow chemistry compared to batch translate into key advantages: safety, competitiveness and improved environmental footprint



In Flow conditions, higher exchange surface to volume ratio and smaller volume allow to perform reactions safely compared to batch

  • X 200 exchange surface to volume ratio vs batch
  • Conditions precisely controlled
  • Lower risk of adverse events
  • In situ synthesis of hazardous intermediates 


Flow chemistry allows safety and competitive economics for the reshoring of processes previously only performed in Asia:

  • Faster reactions: hours to minutes
  • Less idle time versus batch processes
  • Possibly no intermediate purification step

The initial development time is reduced, and upscaling facilitates compared to batch chemistry.

Flow Chemistry requires lower investment for incremental capacity increase and lower OPEX. Flexible production of required quantities without limitations by batch size.

Possible Intellectual Property generation with new synthesis pathways or conditions distinct from batch.

Improved environmental footprint

Significant reduction of environmental footprint compared to batch:

  • ~30% Energy consumption reduction
  • FROM 50% TO 80% reduction of solvent consumption
  • ~50% Reduction of environmental footprint

Lower need of solvent for mixing and calorific transfer as volume is lower with a high surface exchange.

Possibly no need of (solvent-consuming) intermediate purification step.

Homothetic equipment between laboratory scale and manufacturing scale 

From Lab 

  • Laboratory equipment for fast conditions screening then homothetic implementation for the upscaling to manufacturing scale  
  • Capacity: 60g/h (non GMP)

To Manufacturing 

  • GMP Manufacturing at ton scale (50Kg/day – 2 temperature zones)
  • Process Analytical Technology (PAT) tools coupled with Chemometrics competencies 
  • Continuous work-up (2 cascaded mixer-settlers)


Nitration is a typical example of a reaction which is no longer performed in Europe due to safety:
  • Corrosive and hazardous reagent: HNO3
  • Risk of overnitration
  • Explosiveness of nitrated byproducts

Nitration can be combined with hydrogenation to obtain amines.


Possibility to safely perform electrophilic or nucleophilic fluorination reactions
  • Hazardous reagents: F2(gaseous), HF
  • Risk of oxidation side reaction

Possibility to redesign synthesis pathways with late-stage fluorination



Safe and selective chlorination using Cl²
  • Explosive nature of Cl² with organic volatiles
  • Highly exothermic reaction
  • Risk of over chlorination

Flow chemistry allows to mitigate several risks associated with batch reactions

Hazardous reagents

  • Cyanation: possibility to strictly control HCN through neutralization at the end of the reaction
  • Reaction steps using hydrazine

Unstable intermediates

  • Oxidation: in-situ formation of unstable Caro’s acid
  • Diazotization: possibility to produce in situ the unstable diazonium intermediate then perform the next step

Reaction conditions

  • Hydrogenation: H² pressure management

Ability to perform reactions above solvents boiling point

Case study: safe and selective dinitration

>35% of FDA recently approved drugs need at least a nitration step in their manufacturing process. About 35% need at least a chlorination step and about 30% need at least a fluorination step, to mention only these three reaction families.

Over the last 20 years, the industrialization of such reactions has become rare in Europe. Industrial plants have some difficulties of maintaining their implementation in an acceptable environmental and safety conditions with regards to local regulations. In fact, a large part of the production of APIs has been exported to Asia. A crisis such as the Covid-19 is a clear indication of the fragility of the drug supply chain in western geographical areas.

SEQENS is investing in Flow chemistry technology to improve competitiveness and safety for custom synthesis.


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