Sheffield plans continuous powder processing plant

Article by Neil Clark

THE UNIVERSITY of Sheffield plans to launch the UK’s first continuous powder processing plant, which will be used for teaching purposes.

University of Sheffield
An image showing how the pilot plant will look (Credit: University of Sheffield)

The university said the “world leading” pilot plant will be installed within its Faculty of Engineering in Spring 2018. Named the Diamond Integrated Pilot Plant (DiPP), it will be capable of manufacturing pharmaceutical tablets from blends of model active ingredients and inactive media.

This will include key powder process steps for formulated product manufacture, such as crystallisation, blending, granulation and tableting.

Sheffield says that DiPP will allow students and researchers to target industry-based problems to understand the different mechanisms in modelling whole continuous processes.

Head of Department Jim Litster said: “The pharmaceutical industry is undergoing the most significant change in manufacturing processes in the last 30 years. It is tremendous that our students can use this cutting-edge technology in their education at MEng, MSc and PhD-level studies.”

“The new continuous powder processing plant emphasises the importance of complex particulate products, and formulated products more broadly, in modern chemical engineering – and we are reflecting this in our new curriculum. It is truly research–led teaching.”

Students will be allowed to use the facility to test design models for individual unit operations, and also use the integrated manufacturing process for open-ended research and design projects.

DiPP’s key features also include a dedicated industrial control room – a “Power-to-X” pilot plant, which can be used to experiment in the optimal conversion of renewable energy to diesel, and bio-manufacturing equipment. This includes fermenters, bioreactors and downstream processing apparatus, which can be used for experience in scaling up production.

Article by Neil Clark

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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