Syringe Pumps in Chemical Development

What is Chemical Development

Chemical development is the branch of engineering that focuses on transforming raw chemicals, bioactive molecules, and energy into useful consumer items, such as complex materials, medicine, and food products.

In the field of chemical development, pumps play a critical role, using pressure or suction to move fluids by mechanical action.2

Types of Pumps and their Uses

Most pumps fall within two categories:

  1. Centrifugal
  2. Positive displacement

Positive displacement pumps, such as syringe pumps, are the preferred choice for chemical engineering techniques.  The reason for this is because positive displacement pumps generate flow, whereas centrifugal pumps produce pressure.  This can have an impact on the speed of chemical procedures.

Another distinction is the effect of viscosity on flow rate between pumps.  While centrifugal pumps operate best with low viscosity liquids at high flow rates, positive displacement pumps are most efficient in applications using high viscosity materials at low flow rates.5

Many chemical engineering techniques require gradual infusion and withdrawal of precise amounts of solution at a continuous rate; therefore, the use of positive displacement pumps is widely applicable in numerous research techniques.3

Obstacles to Efficiency

Several factors impinge efficiency in chemical engineering and obstacles are magnified as scalability becomes a factor.  Low surface to volume ratio, uneven heat dissipation, and intermittent flow cause impure chemical products.

Sophistication of microfluidic technology over the past two decades has enabled scientists to develop novel approaches to overcome limitations in chemical methodologies.  Chemyx syringe pump systems provide extremely precise dose delivery with high flow rate reproducibility in support of many applications in chemical development.2

Research and Developments

Numerous studies have incorporated microfluidic syringe pumps in innovative chemical processes.

Recently, the successful ionization and fragmentation of peptides was achieved by using a continuous injection with a Chemyx syringe at atmospheric pressure, a novel improvement for targeted peptide isolation.  This allowed scientists to analyze the structural identity of small molecules without intermediate peptide isolation and radical interference.7  Furthermore, incorporation of microfluidics in another peptide fragmentation study allowed scientists to characterize post-translational modifications of small amide groups enabling greater spatial resolution of larger proteins (up to 37kD).1

In other studies, the ability of syringe pumps to maintain a continuous, precise flow enabled scientists to advance photopolymerization methods by increasing reaction rates and minimizing unwanted by-products compared to conventional batch processing methods.6,8  The ability of Chemyx syringe pumps to provide continuous microinfusion of solution at the micrometer level avoids experimental variation and side reactions, supporting the creation of higher quality products.

In addition to advancing microreactor applications, syringe pumps have been valuable in improving material science as well.  In an analysis on the influence of pH, temperature, and sample size on natural and enforced syneresis of silica, scientists used Chemyx syringe pumps to infuse and mix reactants. In another study, a novel technique was developed to separate non-magnetic particles using continuous infusion into a magnetic chamber achieving almost 100% separation efficiency.11 Chemyx syringe pumps were also used in refining wet spinning techniques, which led to increased tensile strength and rigidity of hyaluronan derivatives.4

Finally, scientists used microfluidic pumps to manipulate the growth kinetics of nanocrystals through controlled infusion.10  The precision and flexibility offered by Chemyx programmable syringe systems allow researchers to examine materials at the molecular level with advanced control of the experimental environment.


The ability of microfluidic syringe pumps to manipulate extremely small volumes of fluid has contributed to innovation of a variety of research applications.  As demonstrated in numerous studies utilizing microfluidics, Chemyx syringe pumps support a wide range of applicability in the field of chemical development.



  1. Abzalimov, R., Bobst, C., and Kaltashov, I. (2013). A new approach to measuring protein backbone protection with high spatial resolution using H/D exchange and electron capture dissociation. Anal Chem. 85(19): 9173–9180.
  2. Applications in Chemical Development. (2017). Retrieved from
  3. Berty, J. (1999). Experiments in catalytic reaction engineering.
  4. Bobula, T., Betak, J., Buffa, R., Moravcova, M., Klein, P., Zidek, O., Velebny, V. (2015). Solid-state photocrosslinking of hyaluronan microfibres. Carbohydrate Polymers, 125, 153-160.
  5. Matthews, C. K. (2016). The Differences Between Centrifugal Pumps Vs. Positive Displacement Pumps. Retrieved October 12, 2017, from
  6. Kermagoret, A., Wenn, B., Debuigne, A., Jerome, C.,  Junkers, T.,  and  Detrembleur, C. (2015). Improved photo-induced cobalt-mediated radical polymerization in continuous flow photoreactors. Polymer Chemistry. 6(20): 3847-3857.
  7. Schwartz, A., Shelley, J., Walton C., William, K., Hieftjea, G. (2016). Atmospheric-pressure ionization and fragmentation of peptides by solution-cathode glow discharge. Sci., 7: 6440-50.
  8. Wenn, B., Conradi, M., Carreiras , A., Haddleton, D., and Junkers, T. (2014). Photo-induced copper-mediated polymerization of methyl acrylate in continuous flow reactors. Chem. 5, 3053-3060.
  9. Wilhel, S. and Kind, M. (2015). Influence of pH, Temperature and Sample Size on Natural and Enforced Syneresis of Precipitated Silica. Polymers, 7(12), 2504-2521.
  10. Zhang, H., Li, W., Jin, M., Zeng, J., Yu, T., Yang D., Xia, Y. (2011). Controlling the morphology of rhodium nanocrystals by manipulating the growth kinetics with a syringe pump. Nanotechnology Letters, 11(2),898-903.
  11. Zhu, T., Marrero, F. & Mao, L. (2010). Continuous separation of non-magnetic particles inside ferrofluids. Microfluid Nanofluid, 9, 1003.

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