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Optimal operating policies for continuous crystallization processes in pharmaceutical industries

   School of Engineering

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  Dr A Majumder, Dr J Derksen  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Crystallization is a key unit operation widely used as a means of separation and purification in chemical, food and pharmaceutical industries. More than 90% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in pharmaceutical industry are crystals of some organic materials. Traditionally crystallization has been operated as batch processes which have several drawbacks such as reduced flexibility in control, large processing time and scale-up issues. On the other hand, continuous processing has been envisaged as a key element in improving manufacturing in pharmaceutical industries due to several benefits such as: consistency of product quality, shorter down time and reduced manufacturing cost by improving asset utilization. However, one needs to balance these advantages against specific drawbacks that the continuous processing may have, such as the slow attainment of steady state, incrustation problems and potential instability of operation.

Crystal properties such as crystal size distribution (CSD), purity, polymorphic forms determine the dissolution profile and consequently bioavailability of the administered drug. Thus, stringent control over product crystal properties is required for the desired bioavailability and the method of drug administration. Control over CSD is also necessary for efficient operation of the downstream processes such as filtration and drying. Using process modelling and simulation approach, this project will try to find optimal operating conditions such as supersaturation and temperature profiles, seeding for robust operation of the continuous crystallizer that produces crystals with the required characteristics, polymorphic and enantiomorphic forms. The comparison of various modes of continuous crystallizers such as plug flow crystallizer and mixed suspension mixed product removal (MSMPR) will also be performed. Population balance equation (PBE) combined with appropriate mass and energy balance equation will be used to model crystallization process. Where mixing or flow condition has significant effects, the PBE will be coupled with computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have, an Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Chemical Engineering or similar discipline.

Knowledge or interest in process design, simulation and experience in computer programming would be advantageous

Funding Notes

This project is for self-funded students only. There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to pay Tuition Fees and living expenses, from their own resources, for the duration of study.



This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Chemical Engineering. Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing.

NOTE CLEARLY THE NAME OF THE SUPERVISOR AND EXACT PROJECT TITLE YOU WISH TO BE CONSIDERED FOR ON THE APPLICATION FORM. Applicants are limited to applying for a maximum of 2 projects. Any further applications received will be automatically withdrawn.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr A Majumder ( ) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit (
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