Corning Hosts Ninth Annual Corning Reactor Technology Conference

CHANGZHOU, CHINA – Corning kicked off its two-day Reactor Technology Annual Conference by sharing exciting news. Corning executive Li Fang announced that the company had recently signed an investment agreement with the Changzhou government to establish a new headquarters in Changzhou for Corning’s Advanced-Flow™ Reactors (AFR) business.

“China is the leading global market for continuous flow reactor application technologies,” said Li Fang, president and general manager of Corning Greater China. “Establishing AFR headquarters in Changzhou enables us to more effectively help our customers realize the value AFR technology provides.”

As part of the agreement, Corning received support to establish a headquarters and build the infrastructure for the business, including a technology development center and a reactor manufacturing operation in the Changzhou region. The new headquarters is expected to be operational by late 2020 and the manufacturing facility is expected to be complete before the end of this year.

The company celebrated the moment with a crowd of more than 600 professionals including 200+ executives who represent pharmaceutical, specialty and fine chemical companies, as well as academia and government agencies.

Click here to read the press release on this announcement.

Advanced-Flow Reactors: A History of Disruptive Innovation

In addition to announcing the entity, Corning and other experts discussed current and future developments for continuous flow manufacturing and AFR technologies. As part of this year’s conference theme, “Innovation Empowers the Future,” Corning’s senior vice president of Global Research, Gary Calabrese highlighted Corning’s “long history of delivering disruptive innovations that improve the lives of people all around the world,” including:

  • the glass envelope and manufacturing process that made Edison’s electric light bulb affordable for use in millions of homes around the world,
  • the first low-loss optical fiber that ushered in a communications revolution,
  • damage-resistant pharmaceutical packaging – Corning Valor® Glass – that resists damage and breakage and enhances the storage and delivery of drugs.

Since launching in 2002, AFR technology has grown steadily to become the market leader in continuous flow reactors due to Corning’s superior material performance, parts integrity, and overall higher quality system design.

“Compared with traditional batch reactors, our reactors can achieve 100x better mass transfer, 1000x enhanced heat transfer, 1000x lower reaction volume, and 50x better residence time distribution,” Gary said. “These aren’t marginal improvements, they’re exponential, they’re disruptive, and they give our customers shorter reaction times, better selectivity, inherently safer operation, and higher yield, while reducing environmental impact and lowering their cost.”

 “These aren’t marginal improvements, they’re exponential, they’re disruptive, and they give our customers shorter reaction times, better selectivity, inherently safer operation, and higher yield, while reducing environmental impact and lowering their cost.” - Dr. Gary Calabrese

The conference also featured plenary talks from 11 distinguished industry, academia, and government leaders on relevant topics of interest.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor Klavs Jensen, a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), delivered a keynote speech on “the role of flow reactors in accelerating development and intensification of chemical processes.”

Klavs shared how the recent progress made in integrating flow control, reactors, and work-up units with process analytical techniques (PAT) enables multistep synthesis and reconfigurable production platforms. The results of machine learning, computer-aided synthesis planning, and robot controlled continuous organic synthesis continue to further the acceleration of chemical development.

University of Liege Professor Jean-Christophe M. Monbaliu joined the conference remotely to present on “continuous flow organic synthesis at the interface with current societal challenges,” including API manufacturing, Biobased chemicals, and neutralization of chemical warfare agents.

Micro Chemical Process Innovation for Continuous Manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published draft guidance for the industry titled: “Quality Considerations for Continuous Manufacturing”. The guidance aims to accelerate integrated continuous manufacturing processes to reduce drug production cost, ensure drug quality, and minimize drug shortages. 

“The inherent benefits of our reactor technology can help drive innovations in micro chemical processing for API production,” said Yi Jiang, president and general manager of Corning Advanced-Flow Reactor Technology Co., Ltd. “Featuring our patented heart-cell design combined with high quality Corning specialty glass and UniGrain™ SiC, AFR technology enables significantly enhanced mass transfer and heat transfer, uniformity of residence time distribution (RTD) approaching that of “plug flow,” as well as seamless scaleup from lab to industrial production.”

To showcase these benefits, a representative from Shandong Chambroad Holding shared a case study of their installation and operation of a 10,000 ton/year AFR G4 production unit. They seamlessly scaled-up production, reduced their footprint, and implemented inherently safer designs with safety instrumented system (SIS) automatic controls while producing better quality products with significantly lower operating expenses.

Corning's Yi Jiang, president and general manager of Corning Advanced-Flow Reactor Technology Co., Ltd. with award recipients named as new AFR Application Qualified Labs.

Corning also presented several awards at the conference, including:

  • Corning Green Innovation Award was presented to 21 companies for their excellence in Advanced-Flow Reactor  application development
  • AFR Industrial Grand Award was presented to two companies that achieved 10,000 ton/year throughput installations and steady 24/7 operation 
  • Two companies (Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding Co., Ltd. and Shangdong Guanseng Polymer Materials Science & Technology Inc.) and one university (Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi) received placards to honor their strategic commitment to AFR application developments, excellent technology capacity, and investment in innovation. They were also named as new AFR Application Qualified Labs (AQL).

The shortage of talent development for flow chemistry and flow reactor engineering was raised again as a concern at this year’s conference.

“Education is an important element in the transition from batch to continuous processing,” said Yi. “Corning AFR is fully committed to helping develop the next generation of scientists and engineers in flow chemistry and flow chemical engineering.”

The second day of the conference comprised training programs that gave more than 350 participants hands-on experience with our broad portfolio of products.

“Our annual technology conference began in 2011 with 35 participants from 15 companies. Thanks to great support from our strong customer base and industry collaborators, it has grown exponentially to become an important part of AFR’s global brand,” said Yi.