A UK based consortium including CPI has been able to develop unique continuous processing reactor capability and modelling control techniques for the continuous production of high value pharmaceuticals. The new reactor technologies developed will enable high value chemicals, including pharmaceuticals that have traditionally been made in batches, to be produced in a continuous manner, together with an increased level of automated control leading to products that are of a higher quality, greater consistency and are produced at lower cost in a resource efficient manner.
The developments have the potential to transform many formulating sectors. The two year Innovate UK project titled ‘Made to order processing plants’ finished in April 2015 and involved CPI alongside AstraZeneca, Perceptive Engineering Limited and CMAC at The University of Strathclyde.
The project developed three demonstration scale systems; a flow reactor system at CPI and two continuous crystallisers at the University of Strathclyde. In addition to the reactors, the project has also established novel control design and analytical techniques to complement the reactors. The robust software solution produced enables the reactors to reach optimum performance quickly and efficiently as the manufacturer switches between products. The model predictive control enables ‘plug-and-play’ capabilities by allowing the use of a wide range of continuous test equipment to be controlled by a single control system allowing these to be rapidly reconfigured to manufacture a range of products at different scales.
Neville Slack, Project Manager at CPI stated:
“ The project has demonstrated very good performance and cost benefits across a number of continuous reactors. Technically it has shown that model predictive control can be used to deliver true operational benefits through improving the flexibility of production. Going forward the systems will allow the pharmaceutical industry to move away from the traditional batch processing of high value/low volume products and move towards more cost effective and environmentally sustainable continuous manufacturing systems.
The achievements will not only benefit SMEs by allowing them to exploit advanced control and modelling technologies without the need for in-house expertise but also multinational pharmaceutical companies who wish to speed up and optimise their new product development. ”
With Dr Ian Houson, Technical Project Manager for CMAC adding:
“ We are very happy with the outcome of the collaboration. We have been able to demonstrate higher yields, more consistent product and better quality material using continuous crystallisers coupled with the new control system vs batch equivalent process. ”