Siemens has developed a microprocess system for a wide range of practical applications, thus enabling the chemical and pharmaceutical industries to cut the times required to develop new production processes. On show at the Achema in Frankfurt, the world's largest trade fair for chemical and plant engineering (until May 19), Siprocess is a fully modular system with microtechnical components.
Siprocess offers a combination of modularity and integrated automation that is unique in the field of microprocess methods. This combination makes the system faster than conventional lab apparatus and also flexible and easy to use. One of the first customers is already using Siprocess to develop new production processes in the fine chemicals industry. It will be available to customers in Europe from fall 2006 onward. Working in close cooperation with users, we aim to gather further practical experience under operating conditions so as to optimize the system even further.
The use of microprocess technology offers increased flexibility in the production of the active agents in drugs and other chemical substances. It also eliminates the need to spend time on the often complicated "scale-up" of the process from the laboratory to the industrial level. And since microreactors only work with small quantities, there is no danger of the reaction mixture overheating.
Siprocess comprises various modules that can be connected with one another. The modules include feeder pumps for the starting materials, a microreactor, and a sampler to monitor the results of the reaction. Each module is equipped with its own sensors and electronics, with software, that control the module functions and are connected up to the Siemens Simatic PCS 7 process control system via a data bus. Users can assemble and start up the system within the space of one day. If required, they can also replace modules with their own components. Siprocess enables the reaction of up to three starting materials to form a liquid product. Despite the fact that the tubes in the microreactor are only a few micrometers in diameter, it is possible to produce up to several tons of a substance per year.