Christopher Pink

5 Oct 2012

Christopher Pink is a senior process engineer currently working in the Particle Generation, Control and Engineering department within GSK R&D. After graduating from the University of Leeds in 2004 he was drawn to pursuing a career in research and was attracted by the possibilities of emerging membrane technologies. A particular article in The Chemical Engineer really captured his imagination, it suggested that fractionation of crude oil may one day be possible using a series of membranes. He then spent 4 years studying at Imperial College in Professor Andrew Livingston’s research group, focussing on homogeneous catalyst separations using organic solvent nanofiltration. GSK recruited Chris in 2008 where his experiences to date include designing and building a continuous lab scale API production facility, process design for both continuous and batch processes across lab, pilot and manufacturing scales. He has also co-supervised a full time industrial PhD student with Professor Andrew Livingston where applications of organic solvent nanofiltration were investigated with a focus on separations specific to GSK.

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Membranes in the pharma industry 

Increasing demand for more sustainable processing has led to a renewed focus on improving mass and energy efficiency of processes within the pharmaceutical industry. Distillation has been the conventional unit operation of choice for solvent recovery, and though generating high purity solvent, distillation can be energy-intensive and a low energy alternative is desirable. A potential method has been identified in emerging separation technique organic solvent nanofiltration (OSN). The work presented investigates the feasibility of using OSN as an alternative to distillation for solvent recovery.

While separations of molecules with size differences of over 400Da are easily achievable using OSN, fractionation of similarly sizes molecules is less straightforward, counter current chromatography (CCC), an emerging liquid-liquid based chromatographic separation technique, is capable of such fractionation. It was realised that infact coupling CCC and OSN not only provides a solution for large scale sample preparation, but OSN can also help to significantly reduce the solvent burden required by chromatographic processes (see Figure 1).