Microwaves make for faster, greener pharma manufacturing

May 30, 2013

Microwave radiation could provide a faster, greener way to manufacture drugs, according to researchers at the University of Bradford.

Published in the journal, CrystEngComm, the research is the first to show that microwave radiation can be effectively used for co-crystallisation, a process which creates single crystals constructed from two compounds. Drugs manufactured from these 'co-crystals' can have improved properties such as longer shelf-life, improved solubility and easier absorption into a patient's bloodstream.

Using caffeine and maleic acid as example compounds, the researchers achieved 100 per cent crystallisation in just one minute using very little solvent, making the process faster and more environmentally friendly than conventional methods.

Professor Paradkar, Director of the University of Bradford's Centre for Pharmaceutical Engineering, explains: "We chose caffeine and maleic acid as these compounds have different levels of solubility which is a common problem in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Conventional methods of co-crystallisation aren't effective when you're working with two compounds that dissolve differently, but we found that by using microwave radiation we could still get excellent results."

The team worked with five different solvents, of which water and methanol produced the best results. These two solvents were able to transmit the heat from microwave radiation more effectively than the others tested: , and toluene.

The experiments have only, to date, been carried out at laboratory scale, but Professor Paradkar believes that, if the process can be scaled up, it could offer significant benefits to the :

"Other methods of co-crystallisation, such as solvent , grinding or ultrasound, all have associated problems, for example increased use of solvents or lack of purity in the resulting co-crystals," he says. "Our research shows that is a very promising alternative for producing pure co-crystals quickly, with limited use of solvents."

Explore further: New tool for 'right first time' drug manufacture

More information: Pagire, S. et al. Microwave assisted synthesis of caffeine/maleic acid co-crystals: the role of the dielectric and physicochemical properties of the solvent, CrystEngComm, 2013. DOI: 10.1039/C3CE40292D

Related Stories

New tool for 'right first time' drug manufacture

September 22, 2008

A technology which provides high quality images of the crystallisation process marks the next step towards a 'right first time' approach to drug manufacture, according to engineers at the University of Leeds.

Microwave oven cooks up solar cell material

May 6, 2013

University of Utah metallurgists used an old microwave oven to produce a nanocrystal semiconductor rapidly using cheap, abundant and less toxic metals than other semiconductors. They hope it will be used for more efficient ...

Unique method creates correct mirror image of molecule

May 22, 2013

Many molecules have a right and a left form, just like shoes. In pharmaceuticals, it is important that the correct form of the molecule is used. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have been able to produce ...

Recommended for you

Scientists create revolutionary material to clean oil spills

November 30, 2015

Deakin University scientists have manufactured a revolutionary material that can clean up oil spills, which could save the earth from potential future disasters such as any repeat of the 2010 Gulf Coast BP disaster that wreaked ...

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

November 25, 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.