Manufactured Chemistry: Rethinking Unit Operation Design in the Age of Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing enables new approaches to chemical reactor design due to the ability to build complex geometries and topologies inaccessible to traditional manufacturing technologies. These benefits have been demonstrated in the design and manufacture of novel heat exchangers and fluidic devices. However, due to prevailing heuristics in chemical reactor design, many of the benefits of additive manufacturing have yet to be realized by the chemical engineer. In order to reap these benefits, a formalized design methodology such as topology optimization should be employed for the development of high-efficiency small scale modular reactors capable of being manufactured at large volumes. In this way we may be able to start to descend fast manufacturing learning curves and unleash a new wave of innovation in the chemical engineering sciences.