Optimization

So-called combinatorial reactors are used to check whether theoretically possible reactions really take place. At the same time, simultaneously, a reaction process can be started with each of the pairs formed of ‘n’ components at the homogenous-liquid stage. In each case, this takes place under the same circumstances. (These circumstances include the temperature and pressure of the reaction compound, reaction time or the concentration of other substances present.)

By the application of this method and equipment, it can be found out during one single experiment which pairs react at all, and those that do, to what extent.

However, the correct result cannot be always obtained.

Let us take a simple example:

a) If tellurium powder and concentrated KOH solution are mixed at 20 degrees centigrade, practically nothing will happen. So, it could be concluded that these substances do not enter into reaction with each other.
b) If, however, they are mixed at 60 degrees centigrade, potassium-tellurite and potassium-telluride will be produced, practically quantitatively. In this case the conclusion would be that a reaction takes place, and its products are those mentioned.
c) However, this is not certain either. If the products of the reaction are examined at 20 degrees centigrade, the result will be the same as in point a). The reason for this is that when the compound of 60 degrees is cooled down, the reaction takes place in reverse.

Thus, the following results can be obtained with the same compound:

– The reaction process is started and the product is examined at 20 degrees centigrade – there is no reaction;
– The reaction process is started at 20 degrees, but the product is examined at 60 degrees-a reaction takes place;
– Above process the other way round – there is no reaction;
– Reaction process started and product examined at 60 degrees – reaction takes place.

Moreover, all this also depends on the time available for the reaction to take place. In case this time is too short, the concentration of one (or either) of the products may not reach even at 60 degrees centigrade the threshold level necessary for the method applied to detect products.

The same can take place in the case of any reaction that under the given circumstances
– results in an equilibrium;
– takes place;
– does not take place,
while under different circumstances to another occurs will take place.

2 Problem of three substances

The combinatorial reactor is not suitable for the examination of high-incidence reactions such as:
– three reagents;
– two reagents and a catalyst (enzyme);
– two reagents and an inhibitor,
as it can work only with two substances.

3 Even if the result is correct, it is still not certain that the reaction found can be the basis of industrial production, as it is possible that * the preconditions for economical production do not exist;
* although these preconditions do exist, but finding them would require the conduct of a great number of experiments, which might take an extremely long time to carry out.

The method and equipment offered by the invention provides a solution for these three problems by the application of a piece of equipment
– which is relatively simple to manufacture;
– the production costs of which are relatively low,
and of a data-analyzing software program.

In one variant, with some complement of the combinatorial reactor, which curtails low costs compared to the original costs.

Dr. Endre Simonyi