Crystal Engineering in Continuous Plug-Flow Crystallizers

Size, shape, and polymorphic form are the critical attributes of crystalline particles and represent the major focus of today’s crystallization process design. This work demonstrates how crystal properties can be tuned efficiently in solution via a tubular crystallizer that facilitates rapid temperature cycling. Controlled crystal growth, dissolution, and secondary nucleation allow a precise control of the crystal size and shape distribution, as well as polymorphic composition. Tubular crystallizers utilizing segmented flow such as the one presented in our work can provide plug flow characteristics, fast heating and cooling, allowing for rapid changes of the supersaturation. This makes them superior for crystal engineering over common crystallizers. Characterization of particle transport, however, revealed that careful selection of process parameters, such as tubing diameter, flow rates, solvents, etc., is crucial to achieve the full benefits of such reactors.