Almac and Queen’s University Belfast collaboration passes midpoint

Published: 23-Sep-2021

The KTP project has achieved multiple successful outcomes including dissemination through peer-reviewed publication and several conference presentations

Almac Sciences, a member of the Almac Group, has reached the midway point of a continuous flow technology project in partnership with Queen's University Belfast. The collaboration was made possible through an Innovate UK funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the university.

The aim of the partnership is to enhance established flow technologies platforms at Almac. The technology will be used for the development and manufacture of raw materials and to unlock capacity to perform challenging chemical transformations, the company says. The KTP scheme supports business growth through identification of skills and transfer of academic concepts to deliver what's described as a strategic innovation programme.

There have been significant efforts in the design of flow equipment and processes globally, Almac says, which includes multi-phase flow reactors, gas/liquid mixers and structured catalysts to offer manufacturing flexibility and robustness in continuous production of chemicals.

The KTP project has now passed its midpoint with multiple successful outcomes including dissemination through peer-reviewed publication and several conference presentations detailing the development of a continuous flow packed bed catalytic process for hydrogenation of aromatic nitrobenzoic acids to produce corresponding anilines.

Academic Supervisor, Dr Haresh Manyar, Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at QUB, said: “The hydrogenations under investigation are more efficient, less consumptive and safer than the corresponding batch process. Various industrially important aromatic anilines were produced in excellent yields with high throughputs. A continuous flow approach meant no evidence of genotoxic intermediates and, with the modular reactor design, it can be scaled to produce several kilos without extensive redesign.’ He added ‘This unique collaboration with Almac Sciences is a key milestone for Catalysis research at QUB and we are delighted to work together to advance flow technology within an industrial setting.”

Dr Megan Smyth, Technical Leader, Almac Sciences said: “The ongoing successful knowledge transfer has allowed Almac to deliver kilogram manufacture of product for our customers.”

Dr Scott Wharry, Custom and Flow Chemistry Manager and Company Supervisor, Almac Sciences said: “Research and innovation are at the heart of what we do on a daily basis within our Technology group. This KTP project has not only increased capacity but has allowed in-depth understanding on which we can build a platform capability which will underpin future process development and further innovation. I wish the team continued success and look forward to seeing the final outcome of the project.”

The company recently invested £325,000 in its continuous flow technology, including flow hydrogenation capabilities of up to 100 bar pressure and 300 °C.

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