Crystallization at production scale (>10 kg) is typically a poorly understood unit operation with limited application of first-principles understanding of crystallization to routine design, optimization, and control. In this study, a systematic approach has been established to transfer an existing batch process enabling the implementation of a continuous process in an oscillatory baffled crystallizer (OBC) using ultrasound. Process analytical technology (PAT) was used to understand and monitor the process. Kinetic and thermodynamic parameters have been investigated for lactose sonocrystallization using focused beam reflectance measurement (FBRM) (Mettler Toledo) and mid-infrared spectroscopy (mid-IR) (ABB) in a multiorifice batch oscillatory baffled crystallizer (Batch-OBC). This platform provides an ideal mimic of the mixing, hydrodynamics and operating conditions of the continuous oscillatory flow crystallizer (COBC) while requiring only limited material. Full characterization of the hydrodynamics of the COBC was carried out to identify conditions that deliver plug-flow behavior with residence times of 1–5 h. The results show that continuous crystallization offers significant advantages in terms of process outcomes and operability, including particle size distribution (mean particle size <1500 μm) of alpha lactose monohydrate (ALM), as well as reduced cycle time (4 h compared to the 13–20 h in a batch process). Continuous sonocrystallization was performed for the first time at a throughput of 356 g·h–1 for 12–16 h. During the run at near plug flow, with supersaturation and controlled nucleation using sonication, no issues with fouling or agglomeration were observed. This approach has demonstrated the capability to provide close control of particle attributes at an industrially relevant scale.
- process analytical technology
- oscillatory baffled crystallizer
- mid infrared spectroscopy