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Caprolactam Genomatica (San Diego, Calif.; www.genomatica.com) recently announced the production…
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A Bit of Extra Lab Effort Can Prevent Grief During Scaleup

By Francis X. McConville, Impact Technology Consultants |

    It’s an old saw, but I’ve long held that process development is very much a team effort. Developing safe, robust and scaleable chemical processes calls for close collaboration between synthesis chemists, process development engineers and pilot plant personnel. But experience shows that, particularly in many fine chemical and pharmaceutical organizations, researchers fail to put this principle into practice until it’s too late. Finding out in the process Hazop that the environmental permits prohibit the use of your chosen extraction solvent in your company’s pilot plant is no laughing matter. Nor is arriving at the contract manufacturer’s site for the project only to learn that the designated equipment is not set up for vacuum distillation (it happened to me!). Attention to just such mundane details is, unfortunately, still an important part of process technology transfer and scaleup. Clearly, good communication is the key ingredient to minimizing such painful experiences. However, the more glamorous role of process development, at least on paper, is the collection of quantitative data on process performance to help streamline the scaleup effort. This is where experienced engineers and their…
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