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06 Jan 2012

Sanofi-Aventis has utilised the CPI facilities to demonstrate the potential of Corning Advanced-Flow reactors for multiphase hydrogenations in high volume manufacturing.

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The vision of Sanofi Aventis is to become a diversified global healthcare leader, and has utilised the CPI facilities to demonstrate the potential of Corning Advanced-Flow reactors for multiphase hydrogenations in high volume manufacturing. CPI’s state-of-the-art facilities helped Sanofi Aventis scale-up its process for industrial use. Achievements

In the pharmaceutical and fine chemicals industries, most multiphase hydrogenation reactions are conducted in large batch or semi-batch reactors, in which the catalyst is suspended in liquid and continuously stirred. Batch reactors are often susceptible to lack of temperature control which can result in hot spots on the catalyst’s surface. These hotspots lead to the formation of several by-products or intermediaries, which can result in decomposition. In recent years there has been increasing interest in the testing of micro reactors at laboratory scale for catalytic hydrogenations as, due to their small transverse dimensions, they have exceptionally high surface to volume ratios and therefore exhibit enhanced heat and mass transfer rates. Typically, the micro reactors are producing from 0.1 to 10 grams per hour, so are very well suited for screening or small scale production. A natural progression was to scale up this process for industrial production to several hundred tons per year, which requires production rates of at least one hundred times higher. A solution instigated and conducted by CPI, Sanofi-Aventis and Corning suggest’s the implementation of slurry hydrogenation in continuous flow reactors. This method was tested at CPI’s state-of-the-art flow reaction facility using Corning’s Advanced-Flow glass reactor, an assembly of glass fluidic modules connected together through appropriate piping. The reactor was successfully operated by CPI and the conversion, selectivity, impurity profile and the catalyst content were studied by the highly skilled team. After over 300 hours of operation, results concluded that over 98 percent conversion can be achieved with the continuous flow reactor for starting material concentrations from 30 wt percent to 45 wt percent. The catalyst content proved to have very little impact in a wide range of concentrations, opening the door to potential savings versus the batch reactor processing. These results successfully prove the high potential of Corning Advanced-Flow reactors for slurry-based hydrogenation at an industrially important scale.


The Centre for Process Innovation’s Continuous Reactor Test facility, based at Wilton, Redcar, boasts several key advantages which could be beneficial to projects within your organisation. The facility offers state-of-the-art equipment available for immediate use enabling a quick turnaround on projects. Companies are able to take advantage of the vast knowledge base available from CPI staff, who are experienced in many different continuous systems and chemistries and are familiar with pumping slurries and handling three phase systems. Outsourcing with CPI reduces pressure on your own staff’s workload allowing your employees to focus on other projects. Working with CPI can financially and technically de-risk trials on novel technology.