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New Reactors or Accelerate Industry Development
Dec 29, 2018

The accuracy of the reaction in a manual test environment can be disturbed by many factors, but the reaction will fail, but the machine will not. The world's first artificial intelligence microreactor currently includes a liquid delivery system, microreactor, infrared thermal imaging and computational hardware. Researchers at the University of New York's Tandon School of Engineering are using a range of new capabilities in the field of artificial intelligence to combine artificial neural networks with infrared thermography to control and interpret chemical reactions with precision and speed, far surpassing traditional methods.

“This system can reduce some chemical manufacturing processes from one year to a few weeks, saving a lot of chemical waste and energy in the process,” said Ryan Hartman, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. At the University of New York Tandon and a lead author of a paper, the methods in the Journal of Computer and Chemical Engineering are detailed. In 2017, Hartman introduced a new type of micro-chemical reactor that uses traditionally high-volume reactions with up to 100 liters of chemicals, using only microliters of liquid - a few drops.

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These microfluidic reactors can be used to analyze catalysts for the manufacture or discovery of compounds and to study interactions in drug development, and they are expected to reduce waste, accelerate innovation and increase the safety of chemical research.

An imaging technique used by infrared thermal imaging devices to capture heat maps showing changes in heat during chemical reactions. The supervised learning system interprets the data based on artificial intelligence calculations and inputs selected by the researchers controlling the experiment. They are paired together to enable researchers to capture changes in thermal energy during chemical reactions - as shown by color changes on thermal images - and to quickly explain these changes. Due to the non-contact nature of infrared thermography, this technique can even be used for reactions that operate under extreme temperatures or extreme conditions, such as bioreactors that require sterile fields.

Large chemical companies may screen hundreds of catalysts as they develop new polymers, and each reaction may require more than 100 liters of chemicals, 24 hours or more. Screening multiple catalysts using current laboratory processes can take up to a year. Using Hartman's approach, the entire process can be completed in a matter of weeks, with much less waste and energy usage. Hartmann estimates that a single industrial hood used to control smoke in large-scale chemical testing uses as much energy per year as an average American household.

The new equipment may completely overturn the many rules of the existing industry, let us wait and see.

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