"A new kind of teamwork is required between chemists and chemical engineers. When a new problem is addressed, they should address it together instead of in two parallel streams. This approach would make it easier to solve problems when they occur.”
That was one the core messages when Neville Brewis, Director of Process Engineering Technology, AstraZeneca, UK, held a seminar at DTU Chemical Engineering on May 22 2008.
|Neville Brewis is a senior Process Engineering Manager with over 30 years experience in the fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals industry|
The seminar was titled “Integration of Chemical Engineering Science into Pharmaceutical Process Research and Development plus recent Process Engineering Initiatives” (see abstract below this article).
“Process development has always been the province of the process chemists, and very often the process they developed was thrown over the fence to operation. It is only at that stage that process engineers get involved, and my experience is that this isn’t the optimum way of working - because problems occur then that could have been solved a lot earlier,” says Neville Brewis who has worked for nearly 30 years in the fine chemicals and pharmaceutical industry.
“This causes problems on scale-up and there are some processes that you can’t actually scale up without doing significant and expensive modifications to the plant, and sometimes you even have to alter the chemistry. By earlier involvement you can actually try to identify those problems earlier and try to solve them.”
Brewis believes the teamwork issue should be addressed at the educational level:
“Chemical engineering departments tend to be very separate and sometimes don’t actually do very much integration. But increasingly we see that departments are recognizing that this is the best way of doing things and that they ought to have courses that integrate both chemistry and chemical engineering.”
“But if you have these hybrid courses sometimes you don’t do enough chemistry in them to make a really good chemist, and sometimes you don’t have enough chemical engineering to make a really good chemical engineer. So it’s a real balance and there is no easy solution,” says Neville Brewis who stresses than the problem in his experience is probably not as prevalent in continental Europe as in UK.
“And I know that in US there are moves to try to get combined courses of both chemistry and chemical engineering,” Neville Brewis says.
|Neville Brewis's seminar took place in the lounge at DTU Chemical Engineering, building 229|
“Integration of Chemical Engineering Science into Pharmaceutical Process Research and Development plus recent Process Engineering Initiatives”
by Neville Brewis
Director of Process Engineering Technology,
22 May 2008 at 14:00
DTU Chemical Engineering
Process development in the Pharmaceutical industry has been typically the domain of the Process Chemist with support provided by Chemical Engineers only for manufacturing asset development and modification. Increasingly however, process failures upon moving to commercial scale, the regulatory push for increased process understanding using PAT techniques, and increasing cost, development time and legislative constraints have demanded a different skill set to be brought into early development. Within AstraZeneca over the last 5 years, Chemical Engineers have provided the blend of skills well suited to delivering the changes demanded by the industry, but working in rapidly changing environment of early process development brings a new set of challenges. This has required a refocusing on Chemical Engineering science to ensure a thorough process understanding is achieved in all of the key unit operations and the interaction of physical and chemical phenomena occurring.
To deliver this, much of the work of the chemical engineers has been done at the interface between chemistry and chemical engineering and at the time when solutions are required. The concept of unit operations is still appropriate though a more detailed molecular level understanding is required, particularly in key areas including crystallisation, mixing and transport phenomena, solvent selection and physical property prediction and reaction engineering. Other areas that require the integration of chemical engineers into process development concern the implementation of alternative and potentially novel technologies and engineering solutions and the development of a predictive capability. This has been successfully achieved within AstraZeneca by the appropriate use of the BRITEST tools and techniques, predictive software (e.g. Aspen), CFD modelling and the development of Process Engineering “toolboxes” to optimize process development, route and equipment selection. There has also been much closer collaborative work, especially on experimental laboratory projects, between Process Chemists and Engineers. This last point represents an important and major change in the ways of working for Chemical Engineers within the Pharmaceutical industry.
A brief review of recent Process Engineering initiatives within AZ's PR&D in the areas of PAT, Process Intensification, Scale Up Risk Evaluation and Process Engineering recruitment activities will also be given.
Short Bio-Data of the Speaker
Neville Brewis is a senior Process Engineering Manager with over 30 years experience in the fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals industry, having a continuous career with ICI FCMO [ 1975 -93,Huddersfield], Zeneca [1993-1999,Avlon, Bristol] and AstraZeneca.[ 1999 -date, Bristol and Charnwood]
Main Career Details/Current Activities and Responsibilities
o B.Sc. Chemical Engineering UMIST, 1971
o M.Sc. Chemical Engineering UMIST, 1972
o Ph D research studies into Filtration , UMIST, 1973-75
o Chartered Engineer Member I Chem.E, 1980
o Fellow of I Chem.E, 2002
o Visiting Professor in Chemical Engineering, Loughborough University since 2005
o .Member of Newcastle University Chem. Eng. Industrial Advisory Board since 2005
o AstraZeneca Company representative on the BRITEST Board since 2003
o Member of several other global technical and scientific teams for AstraZeneca
Career has involved extensive experience in process development, plant design, project management, new plant commissioning, staff resourcing, recruitment and people line management and development. Many years of university liaison and academic collaborations with a number of UK/European Universities.
Currently representing AZ on the FP7 call under Theme of Nanosciences. Nanotechnologies, materials and new product technologies -NMP 2008-3.2.1 “Implementation of Process Intensification strategies in Industrial Use.”