Dr Nikolay Cherkasov

Dr Nikolay Cherkasov 2The problem 

Batch reactors are used to manufacture a variety of products in the fine chemicals industry: vitamins, pharmaceuticals, polymers, dyes, fragrances and agrochemicals. A lot of the batch reactors operational time is spent in reactor cleaning, recharging and discharging; operations that produce no product but incur labour costs.

The solution

Dr Nikolay Cherkasov founded Stoli Chem as a spin out company from the University of Warwick to develop catalyst-coated tubes for use in continuous flow reactors. The patented technology could convert hydrogenation reactions, which make up 10% to 20% of reactions in the fine chemicals industry,  from batch to continuous flow chemistry, substantially cutting production costs.

When compared with other common continuous flow reactors, such as fixed bed and flow slurry, Stoli’s catalyst-coated tube reactors offer high-mass, better heat transfer rates and tighter control of reaction parameters. The company can develop bespoke catalysts for gas-liquid and gas-phase reactions. In addition, the company’s reactor designs use 100 to 1,000 times less precious metals.

There has already been commercial interest with international customers commissioning development projects. Besides cutting production costs, Stoli’s technology is more sustainable, using less energy and generating less waste than existing methods.

The company has received significant funding from Innovate UK and the European Innovation Council. Stoli Chem is now developing and demonstrating 100 kilograms-a-day production of fine chemicals and looking to scale-up the company’s manufacturing facilities.

Dr Cherkasov says: “For us, the Enterprise Fellowship was the key step in focusing the business on customer value generation while helping provide essential training for staff.”

Traction

2015 European Research Council Proof of Concept grant to demonstrate the concept of catalyst-coated reactors
2016 Stoli Chem founded and Innovate UK £500,000 grant secured
2018 European Innovation Council €1.2 million grant secured to build a pilot prototype
2019  Dr Nikolay Cherkasov was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship

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