Learning to say “goodbye” to batch processes in 2020

Commentary by Paige Marie Morse, Industry Marketing Director, Aspen Technology

As we move ahead into 2020, chemical companies are again working to migrate from batch to continuous processes.

This is a challenging task ... but several factors encourage companies to make the effort. Batch processing offers control in reactions, but it’s more time-consuming and higher in cost than running continuous processes.

During the next few years, we will see a major shift in chemical/specialty chemical companies moving toward continuous processes, while maintaining high quality and performance.

There are three key factors behind this shift. First, advancements in modelling software help with the design of continuous processes and shorten time to market and process control improvement.

Second, recent US legislative activity including the 21st Century Cures Act, signed in 2016, and guidelines issued in February 2019, advocating for the use of continuous processes in drug manufacturing, are aimed at helping drugs to get to market faster.

Third, we are seeing the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) helping to speed up chemical processes.

The move from batch to continuous processes, while undoubtedly very important, is not the only major trend we expect to see impacting the chemicals sector during 2020.

We are also witnessing the renewed focus on the circular economy that can be aided by modelling software applied to renewable or previously used materials to help companies redesign molecular recycling processes.

Finally, we will continue to witness an ongoing focus from firms across the chemicals sector on achieving sustainability in general and, more specifically, on improving waste management and on curbing emissions.

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