Silicon Micro-reactors

, by Daniel Schweich, Claude De Bellefon, Arnaud Leclerc, Vivian Houzelot

Current silicon micro-machining techniques make now possible the manufacturing of micro-structured reactors with inner dimensions as low as a few micrometers. A major consequence of their high surface-to-volume ratio is a significant increase of heat and mass transfers which make them appropriate for the investigation of demanding reactions. In spite of the increasing amount of research in this field, very few devices can be used at both high pressure and temperature for the study of gas-liquid reactions.

Therefore, several film and dispersed phase contactors have been designed and manufactured, notably with the help of Computational Fluid Dynamics. Taylor flow based contactors, considered as the more convenient in terms of hydrodynamics, were caracterized using an asymetric hydrogenation (30°C, 1-5bar) as well as a partial liquid phase oxidation (200°C, 25bar). Thanks to the intrinsic safety of micro-channels, the latter was also conducted with an enriched oxygen gas feed, thus leading to a significant improvement of the reactor’s productivity.