Heterogeneous photocatalysis in flow chemical reactors

Christopher G. Thomson, Ai-Lan Lee*, Filipe Vilela

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)
178 Downloads (Pure)


The synergy between photocatalysis and continuous flow chemical reactors has shifted the paradigms of photochemistry, opening new avenues of research with safer and scalable processes that can be readily implemented in academia and industry. Current state-of-the-art photocatalysts are homogeneous transition metal complexes that have favourable photophysical properties, wide electrochemical redox potentials, and photostability. However, these photocatalysts present serious drawbacks, such as toxicity, limited availability, and the overall cost of rare transition metal elements. This reduces their long-term viability, especially at an industrial scale. Heterogeneous photocatalysts (HPCats) are an attractive alternative, as the requirement for the separation and purification is largely removed, but typically at the cost of efficiency. Flow chemical reactors can, to a large extent, mitigate the loss in efficiency through reactor designs that enhance mass transport and irradiation. Herein, we review some important developments of heterogeneous photocatalytic materials and their application in flow reactors for sustainable organic synthesis. Further, the application of continuous flow heterogeneous photocatalysis in environmental remediation is briefly discussed to present some interesting reactor designs that could be implemented to enhance organic synthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1495-1549
Number of pages55
JournalBeilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2020


  • Air purification
  • Flow chemistry
  • Heterogeneous photoredox catalysis
  • Organic synthesis
  • Reactor design
  • Water purification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry


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