Our group prioritises studying existing industrial processes and in developing new processes or techniques applicable in pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, food, and other manufacturing sectors which are based on natural raw materials. Separation and purification techniques used in these sectors are of great importance as these are often the limiting stages that significantly affects both the cost and purity of the product. We aim at developing new processes, improving the efficiency of current techniques, and also in establishing continuous manufacturing techniques to overcome the limitations of batch operations.
Continuous Separation Processes
The current project that we are working on is aimed at developing a continuous crystallisation technique for producing crystals of pharmaceutical compounds. Keeping in mind the crystal polymorphism of molecules and the importance of controlling the crystal size distribution, we aim to develop a slug-flow cooling crystalliser that can control both the parameters in a continuous process. Through this, we aim to create a continuous separation platform that can provide better yield and product quality than conventional batch crystallisation processes typically used in pharmaceutical industry.
In the future, we aim to develop more continuous separation processes that can be directly integrated with other continuous manufacturing processes developed in many chemical industries such as pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and agrochemicals. Separation operations in allied industries such as ayurvedic manufacturing, natural component extraction, food industry, etc. too will come under the future scope of this research.
Processing of Plant-derived Products
Extraction of nature derived products such as spices and herbal medicines and extensive knowledge on their various uses have been a stronghold of the Indian subcontinent for centuries. In the modern world, India is the largest exporter of several good quality spice extracts. Similarly, there is high demand for Ayurvedic and herbal medicines and treatment methods from around the world. As a nation, we also have a huge knowledge base in plant-based extracts in the practice of Ayurveda and other traditional medicines. Although many of the chemical manufacturing principles are utilised in these traditional recipes, we have been reluctant to welcome the application of modern manufacturing in those sectors. Incorporating the principles of chemical engineering into conventional extraction and manufacturing processes can make those products more sustainable, both economically and environmentally. We aim to study those conventional processes which have not yet been modernized. In addition to supporting sustainable industrial production of such underutilized sectors in India, this would also help to document some of these treasured knowledge on natural products.
Briefly, the focus of our laboratory is on industrially relevant processes; studying existing ones and developing novel techniques. Separation processes and manufacturing of plant-derived products are the two main areas of interest. The major industrial sectors focused in our work are pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals, food, and ayurvedic industries.