Since the industrial revolution, materials have been scaled through a process known as the “stage-gate”. This is a linear approach with fixed timelines and goals.
However, given the highly unpredictable and complex nature of novel materials, development and scaling up are nonlinear and iterative.
In an “agile” approach, one compensates for high problem complexity through flexible and iterative development campaigns.
Precision nanomanufacturing requires high control over process conditions. Accelerated Materials uses continuous flow, microengineered equipment to provide high resolution control over mixing, hydrodynamic forces and flow distribution.
Annular Microreactor Synthesis
The annular microreactor, recently developed at the University of Cambridge, utilizes a hydrodynamic condition known as “annular flow” to achieve rapid mixing with high and uniform shear rate distributions. When materials are synthesized in a “bottom-up” fashion from liquid precursors, fine manipulation of shear rates enable control over the formation dynamics of nanomaterials, which include non-classical phenomena such as oriented attachment and two-step nucleation pathways.
Importantly, this reactor is continuous and resistant to clogging, which increases production throughput and stability. In multiple case studies, from the synthesis of carbon quantum dots to pharmaceutical nanocrystals, we have validated the ability of this reactor to produce high quality materials in a continuous fashion. Within a single reactor we currently achieve production rates of up to 20 kg/day (solids basis). This means that a given synthesis can be methodically scaled from gram to kilogram quantities in a significantally decreased number of experiments and time.
Passive Flow Regulation
Our passive regulating manifold technology utilizes propietary channel geometries to create highly uniform distributions of flows. In contrast to conventional scale-up procedures, which normally increase the size of a process vessel (“scale-out”), using a manifold to parallelize identifical process units (“number-up”) increases process uniformity, conserves process characteristics from the pilot scale, decreases R&D required for scale-up, and reduces capital costs.
Unlike off-the-shelf manifolds, which either include expensive active control elements or do not compensate at all for downstream variation, our custom designed manifolds are low-cost and can be used in virtually any application with robust tolerances to downstream variations and lower pressure drops.
Publications and Patents
Jose, N. A.; Zeng, H. C.; Lapkin, A. A., Hydrodynamic assembly of two-dimensional layered double hydroxide nanostructures. Nat Commun2018, 9 (1), 4913. [link]
Jose, N. A.; Zeng, H. C.; Lapkin, A. A., Scalable and precise synthesis of two-dimensional metal organic framework nanosheets in a high shear annular microreactor. Chem Eng J 2020, 388, 124133. [link]
Jose, N.A. & Lapkin, A.A., Constant shear continuous reactor device. WO2019158932A1. [link]
Optimizing Processes with Automated Design of Experiments
Data generation and analysis typically require years of labor and expertise. We combine our in-house expertise in materials and data science to intelligently scan highly complex spaces more efficiently than traditional R&D.
Pairing algorithms with high throughput synthesis and analytical tools further accelerates our R&D, enabling us to gather maximum information in a minimal amount of time. In our recent study with Cambridge CARES through the SMART Innovation Centre, we illustrated the ability to rapidly generate high performance nano-ZnO materials using our AI platform.
Jose, N.A. et al. ChemRxiv. Preprint. https://doi.org/10.26434/chemrxiv.12732914.v1