This year, the Rowan team has worked with scientists and engineers from Peapack, N.J., and the Kalamazoo, Mich., plant where drugs such as the widely prescribed SOLU-MEDROL® are made along with other highly specialized medicines.
The Rowan team has been working with several Pfizer personnel, including Frank J. Urbanski (director, Pfizer Global Engineering), Joseph W. Geiger (manager API engineering), and Donald J. Knoechel (senior principal scientist).
The team has collaborated to analyze the economic viability and to quantify the environmental benefits of investing in a small solvent recovery system, as an alternative to incineration, for addressing smaller-volume waste streams. Solvents often represent the primary component of waste from the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), used in medicinal formulations.
According to Urbanski, “There are economic and environmental benefits when Pfizer recovers solvent for re-use, especially when expensive solvents and large volumes are involved. Indeed, Pfizer has been recovering solvents for many decades at its various manufacturing facilities. As we seek to improve our conservation efforts and reduce our carbon footprint, one challenge faced is how best to deal with numerous small-volume waste streams from multi-product facilities, when existing solvent recovery equipment may be too large to be practical.”
Solvent recovery is a routine practice in the pharmaceutical industry when it is technically and economically viable for the particular waste stream. Capital investment in the required piping, tank farms and recovery equipment is more easily justified when dealing with large volumes, high-cost solvents and high equipment-utilization rates and when solvents from multiple products can be pooled together – i.e., they don’t require segregation by product. The use of recovered solvents, and the pooling of solvents, must be appropriately qualified to assure product quality and avoid cross contamination. Economic justification to recover small-volume, “non-poolable,” and intermittently generated waste streams remains challenging but a potential recovery opportunity.
Drs. Mariano J. Savelski and C. Stewart Slater, both Rowan chemical engineering professors, are leading this research effort with a team of chemical engineering students: Joseph Hankins (Blairstown, N.J.), Christopher Mazurek (Jackson, N.J.), James Peterson (Jackson, N.J.), Michael Raymond (Burlington Township, N.J.), and Andrew Tomaino (Middleton, N.J.).
The Rowan team performed a case study on several waste streams being generated at an API synthesis building at the Pfizer Kalamazoo plant. The goal was to investigate those streams that could be most easily recovered with traditional separation and purification processes. As a first step in that analysis, the recovery of acetonitrile solvent from a waste stream in the selamectin synthesis was considered. Selamectin is the active ingredient in the veterinary drug REVOLUTION®. This stream was initially chosen due to the relative high cost (and value) of acetonitrile and the ability to separate acetonitrile from acetone.
Rowan designed a small-scale distillation, solvent-recovery system, and the proposed operation compared with the current waste-disposal practice. To increase the economic feasibility of a potential capital investment and improve the environmental footprint further, the Rowan team evaluated the proposed design for use with the other waste streams in the facility. The simulation included isopropanol solvent recovery from the manufacture of nelfinavir, the active ingredient in the antiretroviral drug VIRACEPT®, used in the treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The study also examined toluene recovery from hydrocortisone manufacture (used in several drug products for relief of inflammation).
“The case study estimates the environmental impacts and economics, using life-cycle assessment, associated with the proposed improvement using various computer routines,” Savelski said.
Knoechel said, “From a plant perspective, the Rowan team has given us some valuable estimates to use in evaluating our solvent use and disposal practices. The team’s unique life-cycle assessment capability helps us understand where we can have the most impact on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.”
The case study for the three drugs showed that 732,000 kg/yr of life cycle emissions, of which 677,000 kg/yr are CO2, could be reduced through using the solvent recovery system. This results from not having to manufacture the virgin solvent as well as from a reduction in waste disposal. The study also projects significant operating cost benefit. The CO2 reductions are equivalent to the amount of emissions saved by not driving cars 1.4 million miles in a year.
The Rowan group presented its work at the 14th Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in Washington, D.C., in June.
Both Pfizer and Rowan recently have been recognized for their green chemistry and engineering achievements. Pfizer’s La Jolla (Calif.) research and development facility won a Clean Air Champions award from the County of San Diego in 2009. Rowan’s Savelski and Slater won the EPA’s Environmental Quality Award in 2009 for their efforts in educating both academia and industry in the field of green engineering. Rowan University’s prior work with Pfizer resulted in recommendations to improve the solvent-recovery operations in the manufacture of celecoxib, the active ingredient in the arthritis pain medication CELEBREX®.
Pfizer and Rowan continue to discuss further green engineering partnerships.
*Celebrex®, Revolution®, Solu-Medrol® and Viracept® are registered trademarks of Pfizer Inc. and its affiliated companies
Patricia Quigley | Newswise Science News
Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences