Continuous | Flow

Optimising manufacture through continuous processing

Leveraging our extensive expertise in pharmaceutical manufacture and complex or hazardous chemistry, we apply continuous processing and flow synthesis to our customers’ API manufacturing programmes to help them unlock cost savings, mitigate risk, and improve process control.

Continuous processing and flow chemistry at Sterling

Continuous synthesis has proven advantageous to the pharmaceutical industry for its ability to enable greater control over processing conditions; facilitating the handling of hazardous processes and reducing costs associated with API manufacturing. At Sterling, we have worked to develop our continuous processing capabilities for several years. Today, we are successfully running continuous processing projects in the lab through to multi-kilo scale.

While widely utilised in other chemical industries, continuous processing is still relatively new within a manufacturing context throughout the pharmaceutical sector. Our expertise and track record in route selection and development of industrial processes enables us to knowledgably select the most appropriate reactor solutions to meet the requirements of our customers continuous processing ambitions, this includes advice on appropriate route design, and guidance to ensure safety and compliance throughout all state of the manufacturing process. ... Read more

Following are some of the things that contribute to our strength in continuous processing:  

  • Expert partners: Our work in continuous processing is supported by our Technology and Innovation Programme, with Professor Ian R. Baxendale of Durham University serving as an on-site advisor providing over 20 years of practical flow chemistry experience and expertise.
  • Specialty in hazardous chemistry: The flow chemistry solutions we deliver are a natural complement to our range of expertise and proven track record in pharmaceutical synthesis and hazardous chemistry.
  • Robust solutions: We utilise various flow-based reactors, which by design contain only a small amount of reactive material in the reactor at a given time. This enables us to deliver robust continuous processing solutions, increasing flexibility in manufacture whilst improving safety and reducing waste.
  • Ongoing development: We have successfully handled continuous processing for a range of development projects at the lab scale, and we are actively expanding our capabilities to support continuous processing at the multi-kilogram and larger manufacturing scales. Read less

Key Benefits

Risk mitigation:

With less exposure to extreme conditions, continuous processing enables greater control over hazardous and unstable intermediates.

Enhanced efficiency:

Continuous processing enables 24/7 operations and eliminates the need to clean down equipment between batches. It also gives added advantages with respect to changing demand based upon manufacturing time rather than batch sizes.


Process intensification leads to reduced processing time, higher throughput, and more efficient resource utilisation making flow chemistry a powerful opportunity for cost savings.

Reduced waste:

The use of flow reactors eliminates the need to waste large batches of unusable material in the event that anything goes wrong.

Proven competencies in hazardous chemistry

Our work in continuous processing builds upon an established track record of handling the most complex and hazardous chemistries, supported by a proven hazard evaluation approach. Continuous processing enables us to expand our processing capabilities and further improve the safety and stability with which we handle hazardous processes and compounds.

Continuous processing is one of the most in-demand technologies among our customers today. We provide our customers full transparency, advising our customers on continuous processing’s potential advantages and disadvantages, and deciding together where it makes the most sense.

Anna Sobolewska | Flow Chemistry Development Chemist

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