Aerobic oxidations in flow: opportunities for the fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries
Molecular oxygen is without doubt the greenest oxidant for redox reactions, yet aerobic oxidation is one of the most challenging to perform with good chemoselectivity, particularly on an industrial scale. This collaborative review (between teams of chemists and chemical engineers) describes the current scientific and operational hurdles that prevent the utilisation of aerobic oxidation reactions for the production of speciality chemicals and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The safety aspects of these reactions are discussed, followed by an overview of (continuous flow) reactors suitable for aerobic oxidation reactions that can be applied on scale. Some examples of how these reactions are currently performed in the industrial laboratory (in batch and in flow) are presented, with particular focus on the scale-up strategy. Last but not least, further challenges and future perspectives are presented in the concluding remarks.