Photochemistry in Flow

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Chemistry


Chemical synthesis of organic molecules on a large production scale is mostly done by thermal activation, in a relatively small number of cases by electrochemistry. Other ways of activation are hardly used, even though they have the potential of facilitating elegant and sustainable synthetic routes that cannot be achieved otherwise. A prominent example of alternative activation is photochemistry, which is very hard to scale up to production scale in classical equipment with large diameters owing to the limited penetration depth of light.
Two recent technological developments provide the foundation for a much wider use of photochemistry on industrial scale:
- Flow chemistry - that is the continuous operation in tubular reactors or reactor cascades with relatively small dimensions on the order of < 10 cm - has seen significant progress over the past years and now features a rich selection of commercially available equipment, that besides pumps and separation units includes UV-transparent reactors.
- LED light sources can provide visible and UV-light of the required wave-length at great intensity and high efficiency. They are capable of overcoming many of the shortcomings of classical light sources like mercury lamps.
The objective of this project is to evaluate the applicability of the very promising marriage of photochemistry and flow technology at the example of a specific organic reaction. It will involve technical aspects of assembling a suitable reactor concept, which may include handling high pressures, and chemical aspects relating to the yield and selectivity of a reaction under consideration. Furthermore, it will build on results obtained in the framework of an ongoing master thesis. Last but not least, it will offer opportunities to interact with ongoing activities on reaction screening at Imperial College and photochemistry at BASF.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S023232/1 31/03/2019 29/09/2027
2457714 Studentship EP/S023232/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Melanie Nutter