Joint Development of Automated, Modular Flow Chemistry Platform for Use On-Orbit
LEXINGTON, Ky., June 12, 2019 — Space Tango announced today a collaboration with the Beeler Research Group from the Boston University Department of Chemistry to develop a fully-automated system to support chemical reactions on-orbit. The Beeler Research Group was selected by the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory to develop reactor systems for flow chemistry in space earlier this year. This work expands on existing liquid-liquid separation capabilities demonstrated last year by Mass Challenge Winner Zaiput Flow Technologies and Space Tango, on the International Space Station.
Flow chemistry can be used for reactions where starting materials are in limited supply and when small-scale reactions are preferable. Continuous flow technology permits the safe development of reactions despite traditional concerns for reaction conditions. The result is a product of higher quality, with less impurity, and faster cycle times.
Used for decades in the chemical industry, and more recently the pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries, Continuous Flow Chemistry is becoming more frequently used for applications including continuous Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) manufacturing of drugs, green chemistry, catalytic reactions for manufacturing propellants and fuels, and polymer chemistry materials applications.
“To date it has not been possible to carry out synthetically useful organic transformations on the ISS-NL and the effect of microgravity on chemical reactions is still poorly understood,” commented Dr. Aaron Beeler, the principal Investigator at the Beeler Research Group. “A stand-alone platform capable of carrying out a range of chemical reactions or even synthetic processes provides a valuable asset for facilitating the understanding of chemical reactivity in space, exploring potential benefits of small molecules and materials under microgravity, and expanding the current and future endeavors of the ISS-NL. These investigations will lay the foundation for our understanding of chemistry in space and define the path for the potential future of flow chemistry on orbit for a variety of applications.”
In addition to a variety of applications that can benefit life on Earth, flow chemistry is also uniquely suited to address broader space applications. Given the limited starting materials necessary and the improved product quality, flow chemistry can assist in both the recycling and production of materials such as oxygen, water, food and pharmaceuticals. This also makes flow chemistry an ideal solution for recapture applications on ISS and planned long-duration missions to places such as the Moon and Mars.
“The ISS National Lab recognizes that flow chemistry is an important application for future discovery and commercial efforts,” added ISS National Lab Program Scientist Dr. Ken Savin. “A flexible system that can accommodate different types of reactions provides an opportunity to utilize ISS and microgravity in a new way that has the potential to aid in the creation of a new sector in the space economy. We are excited by the possibilities and look forward to future discussions with others who are interested in using this platform for space chemistry.”
“We’re excited to work with leading experts from the Beeler Research group to expand flow chemistry capabilities on the ISS,” said Space Tango CEO and Co-Founder Twyman Clements. “Using smaller volumes and shorter resident times for reactions facilitates flow chemistry on the ISS, where safety is of the highest priority, and provides an opportunity to explore transformations in microgravity that may expand the current view of traditional chemistry. We envision that the automated, modular systems we are developing for flow chemistry will be a pivotal step towards further establishing new commercial opportunities in low Earth orbit that benefit life on Earth and address a variety of additional on-orbit applications.”
About Space Tango
Space Tango provides improved access to microgravity through their Open Orbit platform for research and commercial manufacturing applications that benefit life on Earth. The Company believes the microgravity environment is a new frontier for discovery and innovation. Space Tango is focused on creating a new global market 250 miles up in low Earth orbit and envisions a future where the next important breakthroughs in both healthcare and technology will occur off the planet. Recognized for their expertise in microgravity design and operations, Space Tango believes that by exploring with industry and educational partners of all kinds, we can improve life on Earth and inspire the next generation to continue to expand the horizon of this new frontier. For more information, visit www.spacetango.com.
About the Beeler Research Group
The Beeler Research Group is a dynamic multidisciplinary laboratory that develops innovative technology and powerful reaction methods which can be applied to synthesis of complex small molecules. The Beeler lab uses flow chemistry to address challenges that might render potentially powerful reactions impractical in batch, consistently demonstrating that technology can facilitate new reactions that are robust, highly scalable, and enabling for synthesis. For more details on the leading- edge work being conducted by the Beeler Research Group, visit http://www.beelerlab.com/.
About the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory
In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the ISS as the nation’s newest national laboratory to optimize its use for improving quality of life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by non-NASA U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The ISS National Lab manages access to the permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space. For more information, visit https://www.issnationallab.org/.