Continuous Flow Technologies

A Continuous Flow MicroReactor for Chemical Synthesis
  • Introduction

    Chemical Manufacturing Redefined

    For decades continuous flow chemistry has been valued in the petrochemical industry for its increased safety, quality and efficiency in production and scale-up.  Flow chemistry in the petrochemical industry has served as a prime example for innovations in fine chemical production, where processes with low energy and material consumption can lead to increased yields and significant cost savings.  Nearly 90% of processes are still done in batch despite the many challenges and drawbacks of this technology.  However, due to promising advances in flow chemistry, it is becoming the processing technique of the future.

    The establishment of continuous flow processing at Lonza began over 100 years ago. In 2003, microreaction technology (MRT) was introduced into our portfolio.  Lonza’s experience with MRT and the development of our FlowPlate® Micro- and Milli-Reactors has helped us integrate continuous process steps into the manufacturing of more than 43 drug products.  From analgesic and central nervous system treatments to life-extending cardiovascular medicines, we are at the forefront of API development with our continuous flow technologies. 

    New construction of a multi-million CHF facility for continuous flow and microreaction technology in Visp, Switzerland offers increased flexibility and added capacity for this manufacturing technology. This new manufacturing concept represents a milestone in Lonza’s long-term plan for more efficient and sustainable processes in fine chemical manufacturing. Customers will benefit not only from Lonza‘s experience in flow chemistry but also from its adaptation to meet the future needs of the industry. 

    Lonza’s commitment to leading the field in continuous flow chemistry has been enhanced by developing our Flowplate® Microreactor Platform.

  • Sustainable Manufacturing

    Manufacturing in the pharmaceutical industry currently produces more than 25 kilograms of waste for every 1 kilogram of product. Our FlowPlate® Reactors are just a part of Lonza’s initiative to advance sustainable chemistry and create a better global environment. In order to fulfill our mission, Lonza is leading the way by replacing traditional batch processing with continuous flow as often as possible.  

    In 2003, Lonza began developing a more sustainable manufacturing platform using advanced continuous flow technologies with our Microreaction Technology.  This technology enables new processing that could not have been performed under batch conditions. Known as Flash Chemistry, this approach, which is based on high-resolution reaction time control, serves as a powerful tool for synthesis of organic compounds. Multiple steps of a traditional chemical process can be replaced by a single Flash Chemistry step, which leads to shorter synthetic routes. By shortening reaction routes, we are able to reduce processing time and ultimately reduce cost of goods. Use of flow chemistry also creates processes that are inherently safer due to the higher level of containment.

    Meeting the Principles of Green Chemistry:

    Lonza’s use of continuous flow processes addresses many of the Principles of Green Chemistry:

    • Prevention
    • Atom Economy
    • Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses
    • Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries
    • Design for Energy Efficiency
    • Reduce Derivatives
    • Catalysis
    • Inherently Safer
  • Development and Manufacturing Services

    For over 10 years Lonza has been developing processes using Microreaction Technology. To date we have developed 43 processes for products from early development to large-scale.


    Our development and manufacturing services are completed in four stages:

    • Stage 1:  Proof of Concept (2 weeks)
    • Stage 2:  Optimization Study (2 - 4 weeks)
      • Design of experiments (DOE) or complete kinetic analysis
    • Stage 3:  Process Robustness Run (3 weeks)
      • Establishes long term process stability
      • Kilogram laboratory production
    • Stage 4:  Mid-scale & Commercial Manufacturing


    In less than 10 weeks Lonza can help you develop your product from proof of concept to your first mid-scale production run. This timeline includes initial assessment of manufacturability and product characteristics, process optimization, and assessment of scalability. This helps to support quick and efficient MRT process implementation. To ensure product consistency, customers can continue their work with Lonza throughout their mid to large-scale continuous flow manufacturing.  

  • Our Partners

    Lonza’s microreaction R&D team developed an in-house modular microreactor system and FlowPlate® Reactors, which have received multiple industry awards.  The unique micro-structured devices are manufactured and sold with the support of our experienced market partner, Ehrfeld Mikrotechnik BTS, which specializes in exact milling and bonding of chemical resistive alloys.

    Industry Awards

    • Informex Sustainability award - 2010
    • Sandmeyer Prize - 2010