Research areas

Research interests at CiTOS are at the interface between organic chemistry and chemical engineering. Current active research areas include methodology for continuous flow organic synthesis with an impact on current important societal challenges. CiTOS is currently developing four main specific research areas:
(a) innovative, flexible and low environmental footprint synthetic strategies for the preparation of high value-added chemicals (typically active pharmaceutical ingredients);
(b) upgrading of biobased platform molecules
(c) destruction and identification of chemical warfare agents and
(d) versatile and scalable processes towards nanoparticles


Mission & values






As organic chemists, we are committed to developing:

  • Cheaper routes for pharmaceuticals
  • Biobased alternatives
  • Safer chemical processes
  • More efficient chemical processes
  • Strategies with lower environmental impact
  • Technologies for reducing chemical threat

> Our global strategy combines new chemical strategies with the assets of continuous flow reactors

[V5] Assets

Continuous flow organic synthesis

Continuous flow chemistry mostly relies on the inherent properties of the corresponding reactors that affect fluid dynamics, heat and mass transfers for streams of chemicals. It comes with a range of assets that can be advantageously exploited to improve chemistry in many instances: efficient mixing even with immiscible phases, efficient heat management, precise control over the residence time and local stoichiometry, inherent safety and potentially seamless scalability are amongst the most important. It also enables to explore new process windows, such as quick exposure to unconventionally high temperatures for organic reactions.

We develop technologies and methods under continuous flow conditions for:

  • Enabling process conditions considered as demanding, hazardous or difficult to achieve in conventional batch setups
  • Reactions involving rapidly decaying molecules, unstable and dangerous intermediates
  • Complex sequences of reactions
  • Improving process safety and efficiency
  • Decreasing process space and time frames  

 (a) Innovative strategies for the preparation of active pharmaceutical ingredients

Nearly a decade ago, major steps were taken to implement flow chemistry in the pharma industry, which triggered a significant increase of the research efforts in continuous flow chemistry applied to preparative organic synthesis. The adoption of the continuous flow technologies for pharmaceutical applications is now strongly advocated by regulatory authorities such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Flow chemistry could contribute and even solve actual and very sensitive societal concerns such as drug shortages, poor investment in orphan drugs, availability of medicines in remote areas, prohibitive production costs for developing countries, and overall slow development of new drugs.

Within this context, the lab develops integrated and scalable continuous flow strategies for the manufacturing of active pharmaceuticals as well as at designing new concepts for the continuous flow manufacturing of emerging pharmaceuticals. The lab is licensed for the manufacturing of Schedule I-V substances.
























 (b) Upgrading of biosourced platform molecule





The contribution of flow chemistry for designing safer and more reliable chemical processes using facilities with a low environmental footprint typically stimulates lots of hope in the scientific areas that addresses public needs for a greener, more sustainable and safer chemical industry. The various aspects of flow chemistry also contribute to the design of new strategies helping the transition from an exclusively petrobased to biobased industry, or at least to a more sustainable chemical industry, with applications ranging from commodity to specialty chemicals. The global downsizing of production facilities that comes with continuous flow processes positively impacts the global environmental footprint. Within this specific area of research, the lab develops integrated and scalable continuous flow strategies for the upgrading of biosourced platform molecules. Our research efforts aim at providing new strategies for improving the conversion of platforms toward industrially relevant building blocks or active pharmaceutical ingredients.


 (c) Chemical warfare agents

The aspects of downsizing, production intensification and relative affordability of the technology (DIY approach, 3D-printed reactors) might also contribute to boosting the illegal manufacturing of controlled substances, explosives or chemical warfare agents.

Within this context, the lab develops integrated continuous flow strategies with minimal footprint for the preparation of psychotropic compounds and of simulants for chemical warfare agents, as well as integrated protocols for their chemical neutralization. Within the actual context of increasing drug abuse and terrorism threats, our research efforts aim at providing reference compounds and protocols as well as safety procedures for the drug enforcement and military agencies. Please contact us directly for detailed information

 (d) Scalable processes towards nanoparticles


We have started several research programs aiming at the tailored preparation of semi-conductor and noble metal nanoparticles under flow conditions. We have developed unique and scalable flow processes that will enable the industrial production of such high valued-added nanoparticles with low footprint setups. More details soon.