Home > SUPERMAX shell and plate heat exchangers excel as solvent condensers in pharmaceutical manufacturing

SUPERMAX shell and plate heat exchangers excel as solvent condensers in pharmaceutical manufacturing

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article image Pharmaceutical plants and chemical processing facilities prefer the removable cover option for solvent condensing duties because of its easy access and clean-ability

SUPERMAX shell and plate heat exchangers are being preferred over shell and tube exchangers for their lower cost, rapid delivery, smaller footprint and easier maintenance.

SUPERMAX all-welded shell and plate units offer potential for improved performance and efficiency in processes involving batch reactors with one or more organic solvents. The opportunity for a significant solution can be quite substantial, since multiple condensers are often used on each batch reactor as primary and secondary condensers and vent condensers.

Tranter recently received a significant contract for SUPERMAX condensers from a leading bulk pharmaceutical producer in Hyderabad, India.

The order consisted of several SM-22 units, each with a surface area less than 12m², and several SM-07 units, less than 6m² in surface area. All units were supplied with the removable core option.

In this specific application, batch reactor capacity ranges from 1000 to 6000 litres. Solvents used include methanol, toluene, dichloromethane, xylene, tetrahydrofuran and chloroform among others. Used only to dissolve the reactants, products and by-products, the solvents must be recycled for efficiency and environmental reasons. Some processes use the condensers to cycle the solvents back to the reactor while others collect the condensate in tanks for reuse. In some processes, condensible reaction by-products are entrained with the solvent vapour.

Upon completion of the various reactions in the steam-heated jacketed reactors, the solvents are vaporised and condensed by a two-stage, primary and secondary condenser arrangement. A SUPERMAX secondary condenser or subcooler is often used with chiller water media to condense these volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Non-condensibles or refrigerants are sometimes removed by a thermal oxidiser.

Conventionally, each reactor has S&T units as primary and secondary condensers, sized in accordance with reactor capacity. These units are relatively slow to respond; reactors with SUPERMAX units in many cases have a shorter vaporisation/ condensation cycle time, which can raise plant capacity.

Additionally, the much larger S&T units require more steel, which raises their purchase price and makes necessary more elaborate and expensive support structures. Maintenance of S&T units is more difficult, considering that the tube bundle pulling process requires more labour and space than removing the SUPERMAX cover/plate pack assembly for descaling.

Tranter welded plate heat exchangers can fill exacting application needs with vent taps, drains, clean-in-place connections and thermal insulation jackets. Many capacities can be accommodated across the Tranter all-welded product lines, from smaller MAXCHANGER units, through three SUPERMAX sizes and the larger ULTRAMAX exchangers.

These SUPERMAX advantages make reactor solvent condenser applications an attractive optimisation strategy for pharmaceutical and chemical process industries. In some cases, there may be an opportunity to replace slow responding S&T units in the reactor thermal control loop with SUPERCHANGER plate & frame or SUPERMAX all-welded units. Tranter plate HEs with their smaller hold-up volume, can heat the jacketed reactor to the set point faster, conserve costly heat transfer fluids, and control reaction temperature more precisely. The benefit is better yield, lower energy consumption and less off-grade production.

SUPERMAX shell and plate heat exchangers are available in Australia from Tranter Australia .

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