Microreactors. Prospects already achieved and possible misuse
H. Löwe*, V. Hessel, and A. Mueller
IMM Institut für Mikrotechnik Mainz GmbH, Carl
Zeiss Strasse 18-20, D-55129, Mainz, Germany
Microreactors as a no el concept in chemical technology enable the introduction
of new reaction procedures in chemistry, pharmaceutical industry, and
molecular biology. Miniaturized reaction systems offer many exceptional
technical advantages for a large number of applications. The large surface-to-volume
ratio of miniaturized fluid components allows for significantly enhanced
process control and heat management. Moreover, the unique possibilities
of microchemical systems pave the way to a distributed point-of-use
and on-demand production of extremely harmful and toxic substances.
On the other side of the coin,miniaturization of complete set-ups for
chemical syntheses to a suitcase or even to a shoe-box size opens several
possibilities to possibly use them as tools for terrorist attacks and
to facilitate the clandestine manufacture of chemical agents. Microfabrication
techniques are common and allow the machining of special materials (e.g.,
high-alloyed steel, titanium, ceramics, or glass). Meanwhile, micromachining
techniques are available anywhere in the world. Therefore, these techniques
are no longer unique nor proprietary and they cannot pre ent construction
or distribution of microreaction systems by people with allegiance to
a terrorist organization.
*Lecture presented at the IUPAC Workshop, Impact of
Scientific Developments on the Chemical Weapons Convention, Bergen,
Norway, 30 June-3 July 2002. Other presentations are published in this
issue, pp. 2229-2322.
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