Additive Manufacturing of Functional Microarchitected Reactors for Energy, Environmental, and Biological Applications

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Online ISSN 2198-0810 Print ISSN 2288-6206


Additive Manufacturing of Functional Microarchitected Reactors for Energy, Environmental, and Biological Applications Seok Kim1,2 · Do Hyeog Kim2 · Wonpyo Kim2 · Young Tae Cho2   · Nicholas X. Fang1 Received: 5 November 2019 / Revised: 2 July 2020 / Accepted: 6 August 2020 © Korean Society for Precision Engineering 2020

Abstract The use of microreactors in the continuous fluidic system has been rapidly expanded over the past three decades. Developments in materials science and engineering have accelerated the advancement of the microreactor technology, enabling it to play a critical role in chemical, biological, and energy applications. The emerging paradigm of digital additive manufacturing broadens the range of the material flexibility, innovative structural design, and new functionality of the conventional microreactor system. The control of spatial arrangements with functional printable materials determines the mass transport and energy transfer within architected microreactors, which are significant for many emerging applications, including use in catalytic, biological, battery, or photochemical reactors. However, challenges such as lack of design based on multiphysics modeling and material validation are currently preventing the broader applications and impacts of functional microreactors conjugated with digital manufacturing beyond the laboratory scale. This review covers a state-of-the-art of research in the development of some of the most advanced digital manufactured functional microreactors. We then the outline major challenges in the field and provide our perspectives on future research and development directions. Keywords  Microreactor · Architected materials · Additive manufacturing · Micro-/nano-fabrication · Functional materials

1 Introduction Microreactors are widely used in modern chemical process engineering because of their energy efficiency, scalability, safety, and finer degree of control. Unlike large traditional batch reactors, microreactors are constructed from a network of miniaturized reaction structures in configurations measured in millimeters and embedded with micrometer-sized pores or channels. Devices with these small dimensions provide a more efficient mass and heat transfer because of their large specific surface areas, resulting in a higher yield of reaction performance (Fig. 1a, b) [1]. With the development of microfluidic systems, these microreactors have enabled the effective manipulation and control of working * Young Tae Cho [email protected] * Nicholas X. Fang [email protected] 1

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Changwon National University, Changwon, South Korea


fluids that are geometrically constrained within environments having internal dimensions, or hydrodynamic diameters. As a result, advances in a microreactor have gained increasing importance in chemical, pharmaceutical, and energy applications i