Rowan University is partnering with the pharmaceutical industry through the US EPA Region 2 Pollution Prevention program to explore green engineering approaches in drug manufacturing. Rowan Chemical Engineering faculty and students are using their "engineering clinic" program to examine active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) production processes from R&D through manufacturing for pollution prevention opportunities. One of the areas the group has focused on is solvent utilization by examining solvent metrics and solvent waste reduction. In a partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb, the group has been investigating the use of pervaporation technology as a green drying process for tetrahydrofuran solvent recovery. The goal is to examine how membrane technologies can be integrated into the API production process to decrease solvent waste and improve efficiency. Bristol-Myers Squibb scientists and engineers have worked with the Rowan clinic team to evaluate a new oncology drug process as a case study. Using the case study, an analysis of pollution prevention savings using pervaporation technology to reduce solvent use and waste generation in one step of the API synthesis was performed. The broader environmental impact achieved by not having to use the solvent is shown through a life cycle assessment. It is hoped that these developments will be applicable to multiple solvent systems and other projects, providing a new greener platform technology for manufacturing facilities.
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