Addressing the challenges of a continuous operation at intermediate scale

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Scaling up in multiple stages from a laboratory-developed idea to a commercial-scale process offers several advantages. It mitigates the probability of technology failure at larger scale and it helps to select the right equipment and unit operation options. At the DuPont-Kingston Technology Center (KTC), process development researchers scale up the idea from the lab scale into intermediate scale before the pilot plant or demonstration scale. This is to drive down the cost of a new molecule synthesis at the early stages of the process development and identify and tackle technical risk associated with the proposed technology. Also, at the same time, operating at intermediate scale can reduce the cost of pilot plant operation by optimizing process robustness. However, developing, designing and operating a scalable manufacturing process at intermediate scale is very challenging, particularly for continuous operation. This is due to limited knowledge about the process, safety issues and availability of equipment at this scale. In this presentation, process scale-up approaches and associated challenges at intermediate scale are highlighted. In addition, creative strategies that have been developed successfully in the “Kingston Process Development Group” in DuPont Canada to tackle these challenges are described.