One of the biggest problems facing the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry today is the need to manufacture and supply critical drugs economically, safely and in as green a manner as possible. Unfortunately the synthetic chemistry field has become reliant on batch processing technologies that have remained essentially unchanged over the last hundred years. Batch technology although still critical for the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals is in certain aspects is both antiquated and inherently inefficient and new technologies need to be developed and embraced to overcome some of these downfalls.

Continuous flow chemistry wherein chemical transformations are performed in continual flowing streams is providing an innovative means to mitigate many of these downfalls and offers a highly competitive alternative to batch processing. The technology is still in its relative infancy with respect to pharmaceutical manufacturing, with most research and development on small scale occurring in the last ten years. The technology has a number of advantages over traditional batch processing, and is generally associated with improved yields, specificity, reproducibility, safety and greenness. Most critically the technology is directly scalable from bench-scale to the plant-scale negating the need for extensive and costly  process development associated with the up scaling of batch processes.

Dr Riley’s research group together with support from industry partner’s Pelchem and Ketlephela aim to use flow technology as a competitive and innovative tool for the development both cost-effective and green methods for the synthesis of critical active pharmaceutical ingredients (API’s) which are of high relevance to both the local and international markets.