Reaction optimization

The problem

Understanding all the reactions it takes to create a small molecule drug can be really challenging. Getting all the data and studying all the variables usually isn’t possible due to time and material constraints. Automated reaction optimization helps bridge the gap, allowing faster reaction setup and the scale down of reaction volumes. When your reaction is dependent on discrete variables like reagents, and the volume or mass of those reagents, the solution is pretty straightforward – scale down the reaction screening volumes. When you pile on continuous variables like time, temperature, and pressure, reaction optimization can get really tricky when trying to do this with standard automation solutions.

The right tool for the job

Big Kahuna and Junior are automation platforms that can be configured to prepare reactions, process those reaction conditions, and integrate analytical results. When you want to study a wide range of continuous variables, run kinetic studies, keep a closer eye on your reactions, decrease the volume of material, and do it all faster, the go to device on these platforms is the Optimization Sampling Reactor (OSR).

What’s possible

What the heck is an OSR?

The OSR is an 8-channel reactor with individual pressure and temperature control. It operates at temperatures from -15 °C to 200 °C, pressures from ambient to 400 psi (27.6 bar), working volumes of <1 – 25 mL per reaction and is chemically compatible with most reaction conditions. Reactions can be prepared in glass vials on the Big Kahuna or Junior deck. Depending on chemistry requirements and deck space, you can add solids or liquids to each reaction. The whole reaction optimization experiment can be set up in an inert atmosphere if that’s what floats your boat.

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Reactions in the OSR can start by turning on the gas line or adding catalyst or reactant through the injection port. Gas inlets are controlled so a discrete amount of your gas reagents can be added to each chamber and you can track how much is used. If you’re injecting a catalyst to kick it off, the needle bore is wide enough to pick up and transfer a slurry. Each reactor has an antechamber, so reagents can be dispensed without disrupting the conditions of the reactor. The OSR top is heated to keep your solutions in the vial. It also uses overhead stirring, so even if your solution becomes viscous after the reaction has started you can keep mixing.

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Reactions on the OSR can be stopped quickly. The software automatically monitors each reactor by individual gas uptake or time. You can quench a completed reactor with the injection arm and continue to process or initiate other reactors. And if you’re trying to do a kinetic study, the injection arm does double duty as a sampling tool — taking advantage of the antechamber in the top to sample without disrupting the high-pressure, high-temperature reactions. This sampling capability lets you pull small amounts of your sample at different time points, so you can use analytical tools to determine reagent conversion, reaction endpoints and monitor impurity formation.



Junior automates all your back-and-forth, over and over again, hands-on work. Explore more reaction and formulation conditions, prep samples, or hand off any other tasks you think would be better performed if you’re not the one doing it.

Big Kahuna

Big Kahuna gives you automated, high-throughput, end-to-end solutions for biologics, gene therapy vectors, small molecules, polymers and catalysts. It’s completely configurable and helps you save money and time while getting more work done.


Want more info?

Every lab has different bottlenecks and challenges. We’re all about partnering with you to build the bespoke solution that lets you do science faster and better. Have questions or can’t wait to speak with our expert team to find out what might be possible?