A greener facility.
What will be the environmental impact of the next-generation facilities? The idea of disposing plastic bags appears as intuitively
wasteful but must be compared with traditional technology that requires cleaning and sterilization between each batch.
A recent study concluded that single-use technology is approximately 50% less energy intensive than stainless steel because
the consumption and heating of large volumes of water to clean and sterilize is more energy demanding than producing and inactivating
plastic bags that also can be incinerated for energy recovery (9). Even though waste disposal as landfill leaves little CO2-footprint, it does not appear as a sustainable solution in the long term. Add to these considerations the markedly increased
yields and it becomes evident that a next-generation facility will have a smaller CO2-footprint per kilogram of mAb produced compared with a traditional facility. For all facilities, it must be remembered that
any single-use waste flow is only part of the solid waste flow. Mauter described in very good detail how common assumptions
may be challenged through a life-cycle analysis of these technologies (10).
Conclusion and future perspectives
Although there are still some hurdles, trends will combine to bring next-generation monoclonal facilities on-line during the
next two to five years. New cell lines and process technologies will result in 1000 kg mAb/year capacity in 1000-L scale becoming
available in smaller, more flexible, and more cost- effective facilities with investment cost and variable cost massively
improved compared with current facilities with similar output.
But new cell lines and new process technologies may also seriously extend the capability of existing facilities. Provided
that fundamental requirements are observed in the facility design, workflow and data-handling systems facilities can be retrofitted
with next-generation technology. Development laboratories may then be able to cover pilot-plant scale, and pilot plants or
sections of production plants may suddenly acquire the capacity for launch or production capacity. Thus, in the near future
and with the current economic climate, the most common next-generation mAb facility may actually be the upgraded facility.
Niels Guldager is a senior consultant for bioprocess and technology at NNE Pharmaplan A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark, tel. +45 3079 7246, fax
+45 4444 3777, email@example.com
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