Japan-based Asahi Kasei has unveiled a new membrane system designed for pharmaceutical applications to dehydrate organic solvents without using heat or pressure.

The new membrane system is intended for the optimisation of manufacturing processes in the pharmaceutical sector.

Asahi Kasei is a producer of membranes for various industries, including virus removal filters and water treatment membranes.

The dehydration system includes a hollow-fibre module and draw solution for organic solvents in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process.

Organic solvents are used to dissolve active ingredients and intermediates during pharmaceutical manufacturing process.

According to the Japanese chemical firm, the system uses the osmosis phenomenon, which is the movement of a liquid across a semipermeable membrane due to concentration differences.

The development of the draw solution and the forward osmosis membrane makes it possible to remove water without losing intermediates, Asahi Kasei said.

In addition, the membrane can also handle highly soluble liquids such as tetrahydrofuran (THF), toluene, or methanol.

The membrane technology is said to dehydrate organic solvents below 1,000 ppm without applying heat or pressure, thus lowering the effect on heat-sensitive pharmaceutical intermediates.

Furthermore, it can cut the process time and reduce energy consumption when compared to the traditional vacuum distillation technology.

Asahi Kasei said that the membrane system can handle several organic solvents like alcohols, ethers, esters, and hydrocarbons.

The company is working with Ono Pharmaceutical, located in Osaka, to assess the membrane system’s effectiveness in real-world applications.

The partnership is intended to commercialise the system in 2027.

In January 2021, Asahi Kasei Pharma, the pharmaceutical and diagnostic division of Asahi Kasei, granted licence to its orally bioavailable P2X7 receptor antagonist to Eli Lilly and Company.