Process Engineering

Process Engineering Cluster

The research in the Bernal Process Engineering Cluster (PROC) is aligned to UN Sustainable Development Goals in Health, Energy and the Environment/Sustainability. In particular PROC focuses on:

Health.

Good Health and Wellbeing, ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages:

  • Optimised biopharma processing
  • Reduced time to market for new drugs
  • Increasing population drives an increasing demand on food supply, and food production industries

Energy

Affordable and Clean Energy, ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all:

  • Increase substantially the share of renewable energy in global energy mix
  • Advanced energy and C-storage/ conversion
  • Process synthesis and integration

Environment and Sustainability

Responsible Consumption and Production ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns:

  • Substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse
  • Solvent-free processing of advanced materials to reduce waste
  • Multiphase, Bio-, and Hybrid processing

While the shift from batch to continuous manufacturing remains topical in the pharmaceutical and other specialty sectors, fully continuous processing streams, from reaction to tablet, have yet to be realised.  Advances in continuous upstream processes, such as flow chemistry, and continuous crystallisation remain decoupled from advances in downstream formulation, and key limitations exist for both aspects. Moreover, suitable options for continuous isolation and drying at pharmaceutical relevant scales and in pharmaceutical environments (containment, cleaning and ATEX) are limited.

On the downstream side, continuous feeding of powders at low feed rates is challenging, and the exact mechanism of particle-particle interactions in some unit operations is not fully understood. On a broader perspective, the mechanics of coupling unit operations together and coordinating inlet and outlet flows are not trivial, and mechanical and mathematical modelling expertise in this area is currently lacking.

Process analytical technology and modelling will be used by PROC to foster a fuller understanding of the process and to control outputs. PROC will aim to cut the capital and operation costs of processes in half.  This will have the effect of enabling millions of new patients in emerging markets and the developing world to benefit from the dramatically improved availability of medicine and nutrition (health) and Worldwide access to affordable clean energy. Furthermore, the cluster aims to reduce the waste generation and net energy consumption of manufacturing processes by 2.5% year on year for five years, which will mean that Irish and European (carbon) emission targets are met, leading to a substantial contribution to reducing global warming.

Specific goals for PROCESS Cluster are

  1. Develop efficient manufacturing processes ranging from high-added-value specialty products such as vaccines, medicine and food ingredients to commodity products such as food stuffs, chemical building blocks and energy carriers that are safe, high-quality and affordable.
  2. Reduce the capital and operation costs of processes by at least 50%.
  3. Reduce the waste generation and net energy consumption of manufacturing processes by 2.5% per year for five years.