College of Engineering

Novartis - Fixed-Bed Adsorption System

Novartis is a new sponsor of the Clinic program, having supported its first project in the spring semester of 2006. The project has been renewed for the fall, 2006 semester. This project investigated palladium removal from a reaction mixture in a step for producing a pharmaceutical intermediate. The US FDA requires palladium concentrations in drugs to be less than 5 parts per million. During one of the steps in the production of a pharmaceutical intermediate, palladium from a homogeneous organometallic catalyst contaminates the product. Currently a time-consuming process is used to remove the palladium from the reaction mixture. This procedure involves a batch adsorption with activated carbon to remove the palladium, followed by extensive rinsing to remove all the activated carbon from the reaction vessel. The Rowan-Novartis project focuses on the development of an external fixed-bed adsorption column to remove palladium in a process that is greener and less time-intensive than the current method.

This project has several objectives: (1) Experimental determination of equilibrium isotherms, (2) design and construction of a laboratory column (3) experimental investigation of factors affecting column operation, (4) development of an analytic technique for the quantification of palladium, (5) mathematical modeling of column operation, (6) developing a design a for pilot-plant scale-up, and (7) comparison of the performance of different resins. The clinic program gives students the opportunity to work on real industrial problems. For instance in this project they perform an actual reaction run in the pilot plant at Novartis. This project has offered students the unique experience of working with a consultant from Novartis Pharmaceuticals on weekly basis. This project became an employment opportunity when two students on the team were hired to continue research during a summer internship at Novartis Research and Development. Students were given the experience in working with many industry representatives with various areas of expertise and specialty analytic areas. There are many opportunities to develop both verbal and written communication skills as well. Students have written many formal documents regarding the project and formally presented work both at Rowan University and Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Students also had the opportunity to present their work at the AIChE regional conference at Penn State in April and the national conference in San Francisco in November.