Summer School 2019

Dial-a-Molecule Summer School 2019

When: 29th July – 2nd August, 2019

Where: Loughborough University

The second Dial-a-Molecule Summer School in Enabling Technologies was held during the week of 29thJuly at Loughborough University.

This year, as well as PhD students from the UK, the event attracted 2 students from overseas and 3 young researchers from industry. An initial short introduction from each participant revealed a diverse range of backgrounds and research interests, setting the scene for an interesting week.

The summer school began with an introduction to statistical Design of Experiments (DoE), with the first evening being spent putting the lessons into practice by designing and making paper helicopters, whilst enjoying a drink. Congratulations to team ‘Pharmageddon’ who successfully designed the helicopter with the longest time of flight!  Next, it was on to learning about flow chemistry, before spending time in the lab putting the DoE and the flow chemistry together. The 18 experiment design was carried out in an afternoon, using readily available kit (tubing and syringe pumps) which the 6 teams assembled themselves. HPLC samples were collected for off-line analysis and were run overnight. After reviewing the data, DoE software was used (together with chemical knowledge) in a hands-on session to analyse, visualise and draw conclusions from the results.

Whilst waiting for the LC results, the importance – and the scope – of DoE was illustrated with some powerful examples from industry. This showed the depth of process understanding and control that can be gained. The range of analytical tools available for on-line, at-line or in-line measurements was also discussed and their use within automated chemistry and closed loop optimisation was presented. Participants had the opportunity to see some of the monitoring equipment in the lab, including in-line IR making use of a 3D printed adapter.

An overview of the different methods of 3D printing (or, more accurately, additive manufacturing) was followed by a session in the computer room introducing CAD software, taking the students through the steps to design their own ‘conical flask keyring’. 3D Printers were then seen in action, making the keyrings as an exclusive memento for everyone to take away!Software currently under development to allow very straightforward design of flow chemistry chips was then presented by Added Scientific and a ‘flow reactor in a suitcase’, made to a large extent from 3D printed parts and operated by compressed air, was demonstrated by Matt Penny of UCL.

The final topic of the Summer School covered novel reactor technologies, particularly in relation to flow chemistry. The utility of CSTRs was discussed as an alternative to continuous chemistry in tubes and use of the fReactor lab scale cascade CSTR was exemplified for multi-phasic reactions.

The Summer School was lively and interactive, with all the participants being highly engaged – we hope to run a similar school in 2020.

We would like to thank the following people for helping to make this event such a success: Dan Tray (GSK), Adam Price (University of Loughborough), Laurence Coles (Added Scientific), Matt Penny (UCL) and John Blacker (University of Leeds). We also thank RSC Organic Division for a scientific meetings grant in support of this event.

And finally, a very big vote of thanks to the fantastic team at the STEMLab at Loughborough. Without them this Summer School could not have taken place.

Gill Smith, Steve Christie, Rich Bourne and Anna Slater