© 2018 Meso-OFR research line

Research

Mixing efficiency is the key factor for the success of several processes. Stirred tank reactor is commonly used in the industry, however, problems associated with bad mixing, scale-up, product quality and process reproducibility, are typically reported. 

In order to overcome these limitations, static mixers and oscillatory flow reactors (OFR) are used. Static mixers are characterized by their small size, intense mixing, and enhanced mass and heat transfer. However, as the mixing in these units is dependent on superficial velocity, the desired mixing is normally achieved by increasing the fluid flow or the number of mixers, a disadvantage in some processes.

Unlike static mixers, the mixing in oscillatory flow reactors can be improved without changing the solution flow and unit numbers, furthermore, it can be operated in batch-wise or continuously, flexibility especially relevant to the industry. 

In last years a new generation of OFR has been arising, the meso-OFR. These mesoscale (millilitre) oscillatory baffled reactors have received considerable attention due to their small volume and ability to operate at low flow rates, reducing reagent requirements and waste. Based on theoretical and experimental observations a research team, headed by Ferreira, found new dimension ranges and design, fulfilling some of the gaps observed in the conventional OFR, as well as in the meso-OFR, actually known. Based on this novel OFR geometry (Figure 1.) a laboratory prototype was built (Figure 2.).

Figure 1. Design and parameters that characterise the OFR-SPC (EP3057694 (A1) (2016), US2016250615 (A1) (2016); PCT/IB2017/052005 (2017)).

Figure 2. Oscillatory flow reactor apparatus based on plate arrangement.

This novel OFR is suitable for small and medium-scale (milliliters to liters) multiphase applications such as screening reactions, bioprocess, gas-liquid absorption, liquid-liquid extraction, precipitation, and crystallization.

This reactor is based on a modular "LEGO" type system enabling its use in most industrial applications allowing rapid and predictable scale-up without loss of efficiency. Besides, it can be made from a disposable material.

Its technology readiness level (TRL) is 4