I attended a mini conference called Advanced Flow Chemistry – Basis and Application, organised by Henk van den Berg, of SPIN_NL (Sustainable Process Intensification Netherlands), in Vugt, NL, 5th of March 2024. This mini symposium shows that continuous processing in the pharma industry is now a commercial practice, for which EPC companies are available.

ZETON, Microinnova, and Flowid presented industrial implementations of continuous processes in the pharmaceutical industry. Marten Gelderloos of ZETON, an Engineering, Procurement, Contracting (EPC) company, showed a modular designed process build with a skid construction, with individual modules that can be replaced by others, by which the same process can be used for different pharmaceutical products. This increases the return on investment and also speeds up the introduction of new products to the market. So far this modular skid mounted process technology has been applied three times in commercial scale production.

Dirk Kirschneck of Microinnova, an EPC company which also performs contract experimental research to determine key information for the continuous process design, mentioned that the company has executed 200 projects in 20 years. Wouter Stam of FLOWID, a company that started 15 years ago with a novel rotating disk reactor, with high heat and mass transfer, which found commercial scale applications in pharma and fine chemicals, mentioned that FLOWID now offers EPC services for continuous processing, which it calls systems integration, and also R&D and engineering services for new applications for its SPINPRO and other technologies.

Koen Kuijpers of the pharma company Johnson and Johnson, Leiden, presented a project on photochemistry. The reactor consists of a high shear rotating disk, to which a high intensity light source is connected. The lab scale reactor, with a production rate of 1 kg/day, showed a 100 % conversion of feed to product. Stefan Zondag, of University Amsterdam, showed insight in this photochemistry continuous reactor.

Alain Georg, of Fluitec mixing + reaction solutions AG, showed a GMP compliant flow calorimetry reactor, by which accurate information on kinetics and thermodynamics for API reactions quickly becomes available.