The Column - May 2009 - (Page 6)

Welch The Column May 2009 Lorcan/Getty Images Is Green the New Black? “Green” separation techniques have been going in and out of fashion since the early 1980s. Is the renewed interest in green chromatography marketing hype or is the chromatography community beginning to treat this topic seriously? Alasdair Matheson spoke to Chris Welch from Merck’s Separation & Purification Centre of Excellence in Rahway, New Jersey, USA to find out more. Does separation science need to undergo a green revolution? The short answer is yes, but with varying levels of urgency that depend upon the area of separation science. Clearly, the most urgent need for greener separation processes lies where current approaches are generating very large amounts of waste, typically in areas like mining, refining and industrial-scale manufacturing. But, with waste reduction, every little bit helps, so modest savings in techniques that are broadly used, for example, laboratory-scale separations, can also have a substantial cumulative effect. It’s almost an axiom with separation science that in order to make one thing clean, we end up making lots of something else dirty. The challenge for greening separation science is to find ways to bring about the required purification or separation with a net reduction in the amount of waste generated, hopefully using a technology that is also comparable in cost. Often, the green alternative ends up being more economical when costs relating to waste disposal are taken into consideration. At Merck, we are committed to the development of lean and efficient, environmentally benign methods. Our scientists have been working for a number of years on greening chemistry and engineering, particularly as it relates to the commercial manufacturing of drugs. Key drivers for this focus have been a mixture of good Contact author: E-mail: Chris Welch environmental stewardship, regulatory compliance and pure economics, driven largely by the increasing cost of waste disposal. Separation science is an important part of the green chemistry and engineering effort because extractions, washes and various purification processes account for a significant fraction of the waste that is generated in the production of a typical pharmaceutical. LC•GC readers will be most interested in the role that chromatography and adsorption play in this story. Preparative chromatography is increasingly being used in pharmaceutical manufacturing, and green preparative chromatography technologies are essential for commercial feasibility. Preparative chromatography can use hundreds of litres of solvent for every kilogramme of product that is purified. Not surprisingly, solvent recycle and recovery have long been an important focus in this field, and many technological improvements are currently being introduced to further reduce solvent consumption. In the past, waste generated in drug discovery and development was simply chalked up as an unavoidable cost of doing business, but waste reduction in this area has become increasingly important with the recent aggressive focus on productivity in all activities in drug discovery and development. Companies are beginning to realize that even in areas such as analytical chromatography, small amounts of waste, multiplied by the hundreds or thousands of workers in a typical pharma company can be substantial. 6

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Column - May 2009

The Column - May 2009
Q&A: Is Green the New Black?
Market Trends and Analysis
Quantification of Pharmaceuticals from Diminishing Small Volumes of Blood Using the UHC Small Molecule Chip Coupled to Triple Quadrupole MS
An Investigation of the Impact of Common Experimental Parameters on Signal Intensity in SFC–ESI-MS
Multicolumn Preparative SFC: An Advanced Solution to Scale-up Difficulties
Introduction to HPLC 2009
HPLC 2009 Guide

The Column - May 2009