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Productivity in drug manufacturing improved with new technology that prevents clogging of capillary reactors

Patented by the University of Alicante, the ultrasonic capillary reactor achieves  homogeneous, efficient and temperature-controlled multiphase flow

This device is useful in process intensification and flow chemistry, which are typical in the pharmaceutical or medical chemistry industry, as well as in sonochemistry



Image: ultrasonic capillary reactor.


Alicante, Thursday 23 July 2020Roberto_Gomez_FcoJ_Navarro.jpg

The University of Alicante has developed a capillary reactor that improves the technology existing in the market so far. For the first time, the research group in Semiconductor Photochemistry and Electrochemistry, led y Professor in Physical Chemistry Roberto Gómez Torregrosa, have developed a high-and-low-power ultrasonic capillary reactor that achieves homogeneous, efficient and temperature-controlled sonication. This new reactor can replace the ultrasonic bath used until now. The major innovation of this technology is its helicoidal probe, which manages to distribute the nodes and antinodes of the ultrasonic waves, thus achieving a homogeneous vibration along the entire capillary reactor.

The device is part of the so-called "process intensification", which seeks more efficient and ecological solutions for, among other things, the production of drugs. It is useful in the development of flow chemistry processes, typical in the pharmaceutical or medical chemistry industry, as well as in sonochemical processes. This is due to the advantage gained by improving mixing and stirring the particles in flow homogeneously, efficiently and with a temperature-controlled indicator.

Picture: Researchers Roberto Gómez, on the left, and Francisco José Navarro Brull, on the right. 


Solution to the formation of crystals in flow and obstruction of capillary reactors

During the PhD degree that Francisco José Navarro Brull took within the framework of the MAPSYN project, financed by the European Union, and his subsequent research visit at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he kept close contact with several companies, allowed him to study in depth the real problems of capillary reactors. In particular, an unsolved problem was identified, consisting of the possible formation of crystals in the drug synthesis process. These crystals cause the capillary reactors to have a tendency to clog up, which means that all the advantages of process intensification are not possible, since that makes the production stop.

A possible solution to this problem was to use ultrasonic baths so far. With this UA’s invention, a capillary reactor has been designed for the first time that experiences a homogenous vibration along the reaction length in a controlled manner, replacing the ultrasonic bath.

The work that led to the patent was carried out during the development of the doctoral thesis Modelling, Simulation and Optimization of Multiphase Micropacked-Bed Reactors and Capillary Sonoreactors, defended by Francisco José Navarro Brull and partly funded by the EU MAPSYN project.


Scientific or industrial goals

The reactor can be applied to various scientific or industrial purposes, providing a solution to the handling of suspended solids and flow by ultrasonic agitation.

The reactor developed by UA consists of a capillary tube housed in a mechanised helical probe that transmits the vibrations generated by a set of piezoelectric transducers. The complete sonotrode acts as a wave guide homogenising the acoustic field without the appearance of nodes or longitudinal antinodes.

According to participating researchers, this technology can be scaled to multiple reactor diameters and lengths by computational methods and with prototypes built at the UA.

The Ultrasonic Capillary Reactor is a technology protected by the patent number P201830422, with application date on 27 April 2018.


Video made by UA Audiovisual Studio (FGUA)





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