by Pete Swords Pheromone Chemist, Insects Limited, Inc.
Each year Insects Limited, Inc.produces large quantities of high purity insect pheromone for use in our lures. Until recently, top selling pheromones such as webbing clothes moth, cigarette beetle and rice weevil, were synthesized in a 5 liter reaction vessel that yielded a few hundred grams or more each batch. A hundred grams of pheromones will produce about 100,000 lures. With the addition of our new equipment, batch sizes will be able to increase four times in quantity. The new reaction vessel from ChemGlass® has a reaction volume of 20 liters. This 20 liter reaction vessel is equipped with a two-tier mechanical agitator, temperature probes, glass ports for larger drop funnel connections and a double glass jacket around the reaction vessel to keep reactions at the desired temperature. Many reactions that take place in our laboratory are temperature specific. These specific reactions need to take place at -70°C (-94°F). To reach these very low temperatures, insulated reservoirs containing cold baths of a mixture of dry ice and methanol were used. This technique of dry ice/methanol mixture will be less relied upon with the addition of a Huber® chilling system. This 800 pound system contains thermal fluid that flows directly into the jacketed reactor of the reaction vessel and chills the system down to -70° (-94°F) within thirty minutes. Acquiring this new equipment will increase yield and production for high demand, high purity pheromones as well as saving time and energy spent on chemical synthesis.
New 20 liter reactor (left) and -70 degree industrial chiller (right) for pheromone production.