By Nick Gilbert
Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) in Pfinztalhave developed a microreactor to produce explosive materials like nitroglycerine in a safer way.
Microreactors can e.g. be used to produce explosive materials much more safely.
A major benefit of the method is that it involves only smaller quantities of materials, leading to less generation of heat. Another advantage is that the system produces nitroglycerine significantly faster than in conventional reaction vessels. The tiny reactor works continuously without interruption. The base materials flow via small channels into the chamber, where they react with each other and then flow into a second microreactor through other channels for processing or purification. Thus, the microreactors are not only used to synthesize materials but also to perform subsequent processing, noted Stefan Löbbecke from ICT.
ICT researchers construct reactors for every possible chemical reaction and each one is customized to the specific reaction. For example, a microreactor has been built to process polymers for organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). Limitations easily rise, when the polymers are produced or synthesized. The researchers were able to reduce the number of these limitations through accurate process management.
ICT team studies the ongoing chemical reaction in real time situations to develop a microreactor without imperfections. The researchers use various analytical methods, including spectroscopic techniques and calorimetry to carry out their studies. They will be demonstrating a wide range of microreactors, microreactor processes and analytical techniques at the ACHEMA show, which will be held in Frankfurt from June 18 to 22, 2012.