The efficient assembly of functional molecules is a vital component of our modern day lives. The vast majority of healing drugs, agrochemicals that protect and guarantee our food supply, commodities, plastics and polymers of all types are all synthesised materials.
Innovative methods to prepare these compounds and their necessary enabling tools must now conform to a more sustainable chemical agenda whereby we are more responsible for our actions. Flow chemistry methods, and particularly those developed to achieve multi-step processes, are beginning to have an impact on how we conduct chemical synthesis.
The ability to safely contain and manipulate molecules in the flow chemistry environment can lead to lower energy consumption, lower solvent use and recognisable gains in the more efficient employment of the scientific workforce by relegating mundane and trivial tasks to a more machine-assisted approach to chemical preparation. These new flow tools provide further opportunities through rapid reaction optimisation and development of seamless scale-up, containment of hazardous intermediates, and ease of operation for multiphase processes. Increasingly inline tools to better analyse reaction pathways and greatly improve downstream unit operations together with remote monitoring and control are helping develop our vision for a ‘lab of the future’.