MEMCRYST – Continuous and intensified membrane crystallization: Quality control of a pharmaceutical active compound

PhD main supervisor: Élodie CHABANON:
PhD co-supervisors: Catherine CHARCOSSET:
Mathias MONNOT:

PhD topic description:
Crystallization is one of the major unit operations to produce, purify or separate solid compounds  or products. Whatever the technology, a fine control of the mass and/or heat transfer, i.e. supersaturation, is a key parameter to reach the physical quality of the product.
MEMCRYST project aims to study a revolutionary concept of continuous membrane crystallization process. It is an innovative technology that can be considered because of the increased performance of membranes that could give the French industry a competitive advantage.
The project consortium is coordinated by Élodie Chabanon from LAGEPP in Villeurbanne (France) (Laboratory of Automatic control, Chemical and Pharmaceutical engineering) and relies on two public research units and an industrial partner. LAGEPP will develop crystallization aspects by membrane processes. The M2P2 (Mechanics, Modeling and Sustainable Processes – Aix Marseille University, France) will develop hydrodynamic aspects, numerical simulation, intensification of membrane processes. In order to anticipate and test the up scaling, a French pharmaceutical manufacturer is also a partner of the project.
The project focuses on two modes of supersaturation studied up to the industrial scale: the addition of an antisolvant in a solute/solvent mixture through a porous membrane, thanks to a pressure gradient, which reduces the solubility and induces crystallization; reverse antisolvant, based
on pervaporation solvent removing, leads to even lower solubility, thus reducing polymorphic transitions.The mass transfer through the membrane allows a fine control of the supersaturation and therefore a perfect control of the physical quality of the crystals obtained.

PhD duties and environment:
Within the frame of this project funded by the French National Research Agency, the PhD student will be located at the LAGEPP in Villeurbanne, France under the supervision of Dr. Elodie Chabanon (associate professor in LAGEPP) and the co-supervision of Dr. Catherine Charcosset (CNRS Research director in LAGEPP) and Dr. Mathias Monnot (associate professor in M2P2 laboratory). The student  will be surrounded by other members of the project: academic and industrial experts in the fields of crystallization and membrane processes.
Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 – UMR CNRS 5007 – ESCPE Lyon Concerning the experiments, the PhD student will have to design experimental devices to study membrane crystallization by addition of an antisolvent and by reverse antisolvent. Thus, in the case of antisolvent addition, the student could put in light the influence of different microporous materials, hydrodynamic conditions and operating parameters on the physical quality of the product (model molecule). Specific backwashes could also be studied to reduce the impacts of membrane fouling. In the case of reverse antisolvent, the influence of different dense materials (such as in pervaporation), of different membrane geometry, of hydrodynamics (in turbulent flow regime) and of operating parameters on the physical quality of the product will be studied.

Candidate’s profile :
• Holding of master’s degree (or equivalent) in chemical or process engineering with an interest
in membrane processes and/or crystallization
• Desired experience in practice in membrane processes and/or crystallization
• Experience in numerical simulation (CFD) a plus
• With critical and rigorous mind
• Ability to write scientific reports and documents
• Good level of French appreciated
• Good level of written and spoken English necessary

Job conditions:
Funding: French National Research Agency (ANR PRCE)
Contract: Doctoral Contract of 36 months (net salary: around 1 500 €/month)
Doctoral school of Chemistry of Lyon – ED 206
Starting date: January 2022
Working place: LAGEPP, in Villeurbanne, France and possible working trips (in M2P2 lab – Aix Marseille University, France and in Sisteron, France).

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