PS Prozesstechnik GmbH: example projects in membrane technology

Some of our customers are: F. Hoffman-La Roche, Novartis, Ciba, Nestle, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Merck, BASF, Wacker-Chemie, Lonza but also smaller companies as well as universities

Some project examples are listed here:

OSN Organic Solvent Nanofiltration

We have long term experience in this application. The most frequent application is concentration of eluates from chromatograpy and solvent exchange in pharmaceutical applications. OSN replaces efficiently vacuum evaporation especially on smaller production scale (low temperature, faster, no foaming..)

Our MiniMem unit can run tests for this already in the product development phase, e.g. concentration of 500ml to 25ml followed by a solvent exchange, all in one automated process. We use polymeric as well as ceramic membranes. From our experience we know which membranes to choose.

Scale-up: we build the mobile pilot or production unit - GMP - Atex - DQ - IQ - OQ - flexible for use of polymeric and ceramic nanofiltration membranes

Design and construction of a GMP microfiltration for parenterals

Starting point: process development of a time saving microfiltration process by us.

customer need: GMP membrane unit for production of parentreal product for clinical trials, fitting to existing infrastructure.

Activities PS: desing, construction, installation, start-up and training of personell. Membrane unit with demanding specifications concerning surface finish, accurate controll and documentation.

Result: unit installed and qualified.

Extraction solution recycling in a pharma production

Problem: big amounts of solvent extraktion waste (by-products dissolved in Methanol/Water had to be incinerated as chemical waste.

Task: reduction of incineration costs by volume reduction in reverse osmosis concentrate, re-use of permeate for the extraction.

Activities PS: project in several steps. Process screening (reversee osmosis and alternatives), comparison of membranes from different suppliers (independence from suppliers), simulation, process design and cost estimate for production plant. Piloting at customer site with about 50m3 fresh feed solution. Final process design. Specialist support during start-up.

Result: Pay-Back below 1 year, plant was built in collaboration by an engineering company, second plant for the same customer was built in another country and together with another engineering company.

Fractionation of Lignin by Ultrafiltration

Goal: fractionation of lignins by molecular weights.

Task: membrane screening, process optimization of diafiltration and concentration on membranes with different cut-off.

Result: different fractions of ligin produced in kg-scale in pilot plant, scaleable process. Other products from extraction of wood would benefit from energy saving membrane concentration, e.g. Arabinogalactan, Taxifolin.

Concentration of herbal extracts

Problem: herbal extracts are gaining more and more interest for pharmaceutical applications. Often they are extracted with alcohol/water. Tea extraction solution is quite dilute and extraction solvent has to be recovered. Products are temperature sensitive.

Task: development of a membrane process to concentrate the products at room temperature by a factor of 100. Reuse of the permeate for extraction in a closed loop.

Result: our client has patented the process for his herbal extract. The process is interesting also for many other herbal extracts.

Desalting of a special optical brightener

Problem: our client was looking for product quality emprovement by desalting of the product suspension. Success with filter press was limited. He had no success with his standard nanofiltration membrane that he uses for other applications (rapid flux decline).

Task: screening of membranes that allow desalination of this product.

Result: microfiltration can be used because this is a colloidal product suspension (and not a solution). Membranes with a special polymer operate without membrane fouling. Deslination at very low pressure without any problem is possible.

Mini- Reverse osmosis test unit

Problem: pharma products are often only available in small amounts dissolved in organic solvents. A special test unit was needed with small volume, solvent resistant and for high pressures.

Task: development and construction of a lab unit for operation up to 100 bar operation without pressure superposition from pressurized gas bottles. Possibility of operation with supercritical CO2.

Result: lab unit with dead volume 10ml, 100bar, for all solvents.

Purification of a fermentation product FX before and after chromatography

Goal: FX is produced in a fermentation process and has to be purified by chromatography. As pretreatment a low molecular weight organic substance has to be removed. After chromatography a salt (from the eluent) has to be removed and the solution has to be concentrated.

Task: selection of the proper membrane for both applications, purification and concentration of a small amount of product for further applications tests of our client.

Result: with the best membrane found in screening we produced 50ml of concentrated and purified product solution. After succesfull application tests our client ordered a small scale production unit.

Construction of tailor made lab and pilot units

Goal: user of membrane processes need pilot units that fit their needs. For example if they need scalability to an existing production unit.

Task: construction of test and pilot units tailor made to the customers need. Working range (pressure, temperature, Ex-classification, pH, solvents), membrane area, membrane module types of different suppliers, instrumentration, scalability.

Result: several units built. Based on our experience we can construct a pilot unit also for very specific application and deliver it fast.