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Lab exchange: “transfer of lab-scale syntheses to a larger scale”


Lab exchange: “transfer of lab-scale syntheses to a larger scale”

Lab exchange: “transfer of lab-scale syntheses to a larger scale”. A total profit for SPOTLIGHT.

Within the SPOTLIGHT project, TNO develops lab-scale wet-chemical syntheses of plasmonic catalysts and analyses their performance in in catalytic processes. Fraunhofer is responsible for the upscaling of the developed lab-scale to large batch syntheses (up to 100 L). Franziska Stahl, a trainee at Fraunhofer, had the opportunity to visit the TNO labs for two weeks and to be instructed in lab-scale syntheses of catalyst materials.  She is sharing her experiences with us in the following:

– Both TNO and Fraunhofer are RTOs but located in either Germany or the Netherlands. Have you noticed any differences between these workplaces?

While overall it seems like the general working atmosphere is the same, a few differences were evident.

Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC is located in the center of Würzburg in between the pedestrian zone and residential quarters, TNO Materials Solutions is located at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven surrounded by industrial buildings.

While the Fraunhofer buildings have a very concentrated atmosphere due to their long tradition with many small offices and laboratories on each floor, TNO provides a very open, modern working environment with open-plan offices and a separation of lab and office area.  

 -Regarding chemistry on the lab scale compared to the large scale – what are the main differences?

While the small-scale synthesis rather relies on common lab equipment, such as round bottom flasks, magnetic stirrers, or filters, on the larger scale huge reactors, overhead stirrers, or semi-continuous centrifuges are used.

Small scale syntheses are often less time-consuming and thus, several can be carried out at once by a single person.

This is why they are used for developing and optimizing chemical reactions, while upscaling is a necessary step to successfully transfer new reactions to the market/ to industry.

-What was your nicest experience in the Netherlands?

I have appreciated the open and cordial atmosphere at TNO. I liked the good balance between practical lab work, as well as being trained in the theory behind it and having fun or making jokes together.

– Why was this lab exchange beneficial for SPOTLIGHT?

For the successful transfer of lab-scale syntheses to a larger scale, often very tiny aspects of the procedure are crucial. Performing the experiments at TNO in person helped to identify a few of these, ultimately improving the upscaling procedure at Fraunhofer.