Synthetic applications of vortex thin film microfluidics

Author: Scott Pye

Pye, Scott, 2020 Synthetic applications of vortex thin film microfluidics, Flinders University, College of Science and Engineering

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Achieving sustainable chemical processes is vital goal to work towards a circular economy. It has become apparent over the last decade that flow chemistry can offer a great deal in moving towards a circular economy, and this work seeks to expand on that. Specifically, this work studied and developed the use of vortex fluidics, a unique spin on flow chemistry. For achieving vortex fluidics, a new device was explored, the Vortex Fluidic Device (VFD) – initially developed by Prof C. L Raston. It was clear in undertaking this Ph. D candidature, that the VFD offers unique benefits for chemical processing - but many questions remained un-answered. Such questions as “how do these benefits arise”, and “what can this device offer in moving towards a circular economy”. During the course of this work, collaborating with many diversely talented people, many questions have been answered - and many more questions have been uncovered.

Detailed in this thesis are the avenues that I explored, regarding the development of the VFD. Firstly, the complex fluid dynamics of how liquids behave, specifically how two immiscible liquids interact. The extent of the interfacial area provided by the liquid vortex was studied. Applying the fundamental findings led to enhancing the heat and mass transfer capabilities of liquids, revealing the possibility to utilise cheap and green reagents where they are not traditionally viable. This was shown to provide scalable transformations whilst enhancing the safety aspects of working with toxic and exothermic reactions. The model systems studied were that of the olefin metathesis reaction, organic oxidations, and the synthesis of various polymers. This line of work led to the production of never-before seen compounds, and solved stereo-chemical questions on molecules reported nearly a century ago.

Keywords: Olefin Metathesis, Flow Chemistry, Vortex Fluidics, Grubbs, Continuous Flow, Nuetron Imaging, SANS, Synthesis, Oxidation, Shear, Oxidative Sulphotolysis

Subject: Chemistry thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2020
School: College of Science and Engineering
Supervisor: Colin Raston