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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  2. Microfluidic devices and systems have entered many areas of chemical engineering, and the rate of their adoption is only increasing. As we approach and adapt to the critical global challenges we face in the near future, it is important to consider the capabilities of flow chemistry and its applications in next-generation technologies for sustainability, energy production, and tailor-made specialty chemicals. We present the introduction of microfluidics into the fundamental unit operations of chemical engineering. We discuss the traits and advantages of microfluidic approaches to different reactive systems, both well-established and emerging, with a focus on the integration of modular microfluidicmore »devices into high-efficiency experimental platforms for accelerated process optimization and intensified continuous manufacturing. Finally, we discuss the current state and new horizons in self-driven experimentation in flow chemistry for both intelligent exploration through the chemical universe and distributed manufacturing. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Volume 13 is October 2022. Please see for revised estimates.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 7, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 7, 2022
  4. Metal-mediated chemical reactions have been a vital area of research for over a century. Recently, there has been increasing effort to improve the performance of metal-mediated catalysis by optimizing the structure and chemical environment of active catalytic species towards process intensification and sustainability. Network-supported catalysts use a solid (rigid or flexible) support with embedded metal catalysts, ideally allowing for efficient precursor access to the catalytic sites and simultaneously not requiring a catalyst separation step following the reaction with minimal catalyst leaching. This minireview focuses on recent developments of network-supported catalysts to improve the performance of a wide range of metal-mediatedmore »catalytic reactions. We discuss in detail the different strategies to realize the combined benefits of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis in a metal catalyst support. We outline the unique versatility, tunability, properties, and activity of such hybrid catalysts in batch and continuous flow configurations. Furthermore, we present potential future directions to address some of the challenges and shortcomings of current flexible network-supported catalysts.« less
  5. Titania microspheres have attracted substantial attention for a variety of applications, including ion scavenging, catalysis, and energy generation, though most synthetic techniques are limited to a few basic morphologies and narrow size ranges. Here, an intensified microfluidic strategy for continuous synthesis of anatase titania microspheres is presented. In-flow photo crosslinking, incorporated with a flow reactor and polar aprotic solvent, enables access to precursor compositions up to an order of magnitude higher than those previously reported, with size tunability approaching two orders of magnitude. Morphological and surface area effects associated with precursor composition are explored, resulting in hollow, yolk–shell, macroporous, andmore »dense titania microspheres containing no detectable rutile phase and possessing surface areas exceeding 350 m 2 g −1 post calcination. Furthermore, effects of calcination temperature and time on the surface area, crystallinity and phase composition, and morphology of the synthesized titania microspheres are studied in detail. The synthesized microspheres are shown to remain completely in the anatase phase, even at temperatures up to 900 °C, far beyond the expected phase transition temperature. Thus, the breadth of attainable morphologies, specific surface areas, and phase compositions present a variety of intriguing substrate candidates for such applications as heterogeneous (photo) catalysis, adsorption and ion capture, electrochemistry, and photovoltaics.« less
  6. Macroporous microbeads are synthesized by microfluidic production of silica-loaded polymeric microdroplets followed by porogen removal via selective etching. Microdroplets are produced in a flow-focusing microreactor to ensure monodispersity with uniform porogen loading. Effects of porogen size and polymer network density on the porosity and effective modulus of the microbeads are studied.
  7. Metal-mediated cross-coupling reactions offer organic chemists a wide array of stereo- and chemically-selective reactions with broad applications in fine chemical and pharmaceutical synthesis.1 Current batch-based synthesis methods are beginning to be replaced with flow chemistry strategies to take advantage of the improved consistency and process control methods offered by continuous flow systems.2,3 Most cross-coupling chemistries still encounter several issues in flow using homogeneous catalysis, including expensive catalyst recovery and air sensitivity due to the chemical nature of the catalyst ligands.1 To mitigate some of these issues, a ligand-free heterogeneous catalysis reaction was developed using palladium (Pd) loaded into a polymericmore »network of a silicone elastomer, poly(hydromethylsiloxane) (PHMS), that is not air sensitive and can be used with mild reaction solvents (ethanol and water).4 In this work we present a novel method of producing soft catalytic microparticles using a multiphase flow-focusing microreactor and demonstrate their application for continuous Suzuki-Miyaura cross-coupling reactions. The catalytic microparticles are produced in a coaxial glass capillary-based 3D flow-focusing microreactor. The microreactor consists of two precursors, a cross-linking catalyst in toluene and a mixture of the PHMS polymer and a divinyl cross-linker. The dispersed phase containing the polymer, cross-linker, and cross-linking catalyst is continuously mixed and then formed into microdroplets by the continuous phase of water and surfactant (sodium dodecyl sulfate) introduced in a counter-flow configuration. Elastomeric microdroplets with a diameter ranging between 50 to 300 micron are produced at 25 to 250 Hz with a size polydispersity less than 3% in single stream production. The physicochemical properties of the elastomeric microparticles such as particle swelling/softness can be tuned using the ratio of cross-linker to polymer as well as the ratio of polymer mixture to solvent during the particle formation. Swelling in toluene can be tuned up to 400% of the initial particle volume by reducing the concentration of cross-linker in the mixture and increasing the ratio of polymer to solvent during production.5 After the particles are produced and collected, they are transferred into toluene containing palladium acetate, allowing the particles to incorporate the palladium into the polymer network and then reduce the palladium to Pd0 with the Si-H functionality present on the PHMS backbones. After the reduction, the Pd-loaded particles can be washed and dried for storage or switched into an ethanol/water solution for loading into a micro-packed bed reactor (µ-PBR) for continuous organic synthesis. The in-situ reduction of Pd within the PHMS microparticles was confirmed using energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and focused ion beam-SEM, and TEM techniques. In the next step, we used the developed µ-PBR to conduct continuous organic synthesis of 4-phenyltoluene by Suzuki-Miyaura cross-coupling of 4-iodotoluene and phenylboronic acid using potassium carbonate as the base. Catalyst leaching was determined to only occur at sub ppm concentrations even at high solvent flow rates after 24 h of continuous run using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The developed µ-PBR using the elastomeric microparticles is an important initial step towards the development of highly-efficient and green continuous manufacturing technologies in the pharma industry. In addition, the developed elastomeric microparticle synthesis technique can be utilized for the development of a library of other chemically cross-linkable polymer/cross-linker pairs for applications in organic synthesis, targeted drug delivery, cell encapsulation, or biomedical imaging. References 1. Ruiz-Castillo P, Buchwald SL. Applications of Palladium-Catalyzed C-N Cross-Coupling Reactions. Chem Rev. 2016;116(19):12564-12649. 2. Adamo A, Beingessner RL, Behnam M, et al. On-demand continuous-flow production of pharmaceuticals in a compact, reconfigurable system. Science. 2016;352(6281):61 LP-67. 3. Jensen KF. Flow Chemistry — Microreaction Technology Comes of Age. 2017;63(3). 4. Stibingerova I, Voltrova S, Kocova S, Lindale M, Srogl J. Modular Approach to Heterogenous Catalysis. Manipulation of Cross-Coupling Catalyst Activity. Org Lett. 2016;18(2):312-315. 5. Bennett JA, Kristof AJ, Vasudevan V, Genzer J, Srogl J, Abolhasani M. Microfluidic synthesis of elastomeric microparticles: A case study in catalysis of palladium-mediated cross-coupling. AIChE J. 2018;0(0):1-10.« less