TECHNO-ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF THE COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION OF PLANT-BASED PHERMACEUTICALS – Mentored by CBE Faculty, Dr. Christine Peebles
This project explored the commercial feasibility of the production of monoclonal antibodies (mAb) using transgenic tobacco plants (Nicotiana benthamiana). Protein production is typically done with mammalian cells or bacteria, so using plants in a new approach; and comparing the two methods was their goal. Specifically, the students conducted a techno-economic analysis on both the upstream and downstream processes and examined key differences between the methods. They also described the advantages of using transgenic tobacco and detailed additional safety considerations of the process. In addition, process flow diagrams for the upstream and downstream processes were thoroughly modeled using SuperPro Designer software.
ELECTROSPINNING OF DEMINERALIZED BONE MATRIX – Mentored by CBE & ME Faculty, Drs. Matthew Kipper and Ketul Popat
The purpose of this project was to optimize the process of electrospinning Demineralized Bone Matrix onto a mat for the creation of scaffolds for cell growth. A scaffold composed of biological polymers such as DBM, as opposed to synthetic polymers would improve the compatibility, making it more stable for use in the medical field. Electrospinning is the process in which a polymer is dissolved in a solvent, the solvent and polymer are ejected into an electric field, the solvent evaporates, and the polymer is collected on a plate. The DBM used in this project was allograft bone without inorganic material, creating a natural alternative to synthetic polymers. Once the group successfully optimized the process, they investigated the cell growth capabilities of the electrospun scaffolds. Potential uses of this scaffold could be seen in a patient with tissue damage; offering a quicker and more natural recovery.
TECHNOECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF A CHEMICAL PROCESS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF 2, 3, 3, 3 – TETRAFLUOROPENTENE
A chemical called R134a, previously used as a refrigerant in automobiles and home/industrial AC units, was notorious for producing harmful emissions, so, this group designed a their own chemical process to create HFC-1234yf, a more environmentally-friendly refrigerant. HFC-1234yf is patented by Du Pont, however, along with creating this chemical, the group decided to dive into the economical logistics behind its manufacturing process. An analysis was performed to determine the feasibility of creating a process plant from scratch. Using capital investment and return on investment, the selling price for the refrigerant was calculated and compared against Du Pont’s price to determine if it could compete. It was concluded that the price of the reactants was the major driving force for the cost of manufacturing and that even with having a high price of reactants, HFC-1234yf could still be produced more inexpensively than the selling price of it. The group concluded that the Du Pont process is highly profitab
TECHNOECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF A CHEMICAL PROCESS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF VINYL CHLORIDE – Mentored by CBE Faculty, Dr. Travis Bailey
A major portion of this group’s project was to complete a technoeconomic analysis of a Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) production plant versus an existing U.S. patent. The plant uses a method of converting ethylene and chlorine to di-chloroethane, which is then broken down to VCM under high temperatures. In the technical analysis this group performed, a Process Flow Diagram (FPD) was developed and a cost analysis was created. An additional minor part of the project was to design a polymerization unit to convert VCM to PVC using a current U.S. patent. Both processes resulted in a very favorable Return on Investment.
TECHNOECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF A PROCESS FOR THE REMOVAL OF VOLATILE FATTY ACIDS FROM LIGNOCELLULOSIC HYDROLYSATE – Sponsored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Mentored by CBE Faculty, Dr. Kenneth Reardon
This group’s project, in support of NREL’s Co-optima initiative, focused on the continuous extraction of volatile fatty acids produced by a bacteria Clostridium butyricum from lignocellulosic hydrolysate, which is a stream fed to bacteria so that it can convert fermentable sugars to butanol and other VFA’s. The ability to remove VFA’s from an aqueous solution, in an economically feasible manner, is of high interest, as these VFA’s act as precursors to biofuels. Extraction and purification of these acids from the fermentation broth can be fed into further ketonization steps to produce biofuels. This group’s design goals focused on membrane extraction through a TOPO, a complex solvent, and kerosene mixture to continuously remove VFA’s produced during fermentation. A TOPO-acid complex is formed and then further distilled to convert VFA’s into a pure vapor form. The use of an immobilized cell reactor is also introduced within their design to optimize the proceeding extraction.
MONOCLONAL PRODUCTION IN TOBACCO – Project Inspired by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Mentored by CBE Faculty, Dr. Christine Peebles
This group’s plant-based pharmaceutical senior design project sought to advance the promising technology of recombinant proteins transient expression in tobacco plants for biopharmaceutical manufacturing. The target, provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was a therapeutic antibody protein for Japanese Encephalitis Virus, a virus prevalent in Asia. The application would be a neutralizing therapy administered intravenously to a person infected with the virus. The group closely considered methods that scaled well to ease the transition from lab bench to pilot plant and eventually full scale manufacturing. Their work was divided into three subgroups: upstream, downstream, and quality control. Anthony Roulier and Eli McPherson, of the upstream team, confronted the technical challenges of strain optimization and genetic cloning of the various organisms used. Cassidy Wright and Aiden Ceney, of the downstream team, developed effective methods for tobacco genetic transformation and purification of the antibody. Quality control was composed of Bryant Hiraki and Stacey Zintrgraff, and tasked with understanding the biochemistry of antibodies that enabled proper analysis and confirmation of function. The year-long project was successful in transforming tobacco and purifying the protein for future work in animal studies with the CDC Fort Collins campus.
REMOVAL OF BROMIDE FROM MIXED EFFLUENT WASTE WATER STREAMS – Sponsored by Carestream
This team partnered with Carestream to reduce the bromide concentration found in wastewater effluent. This is a priority for Carestream, the former medical division of Kodak, because of its detrimental affect on the reproduction of water flea species Ceriodaphnia dubia. Ceriodaphnia dubia is often used as an indicator species when testing toxicity levels in wastewater treatment plant effluent streams. The team tested two different methods for bromide removal. The first tested three types of powdered activated carbon, and the second tested a polystyrene ion-exchange resin called Amberlite IRA 910. Various approaches to sample jar tests were performed by the team in order to test the effectiveness of each method while also attempting to better understand how to integrate the bromide removal mechanism into Carestream’s current wastewater treatment process. While the activated carbon testing was not effective, the polystyrene resin has shown promising results for bromide removal in Carestream’s frequently changing wastewater effluent.
PRELIMINARY DESIGN FOR THE COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION OF HIGHLY POROUS PROTEIN CRYSTALS – Mentored by CBE Faculty, Dr. Christopher Snow
This group spent the semester working with Dr. Snow’s lab on a protein called CJ, grown in genetically engineered E. Coli bacteria. When crystallized, the protein has great potential for a wide variety of uses, such as in pharmaceuticals. To date, Dr. Snow’s team has been working on a small laboratory scale. This project’s goal was to design a working process for CJ purification and crystallization on a larger scale. The project was intended to both lay the groundwork for Dr. Snow to eventually scale up operations, and to find out if CJ production is profitable. The design included three different process possibilities for comparison, with an economic analysis for each.
DESIGN AND SCHEDULING OF HIGH-TEMPERATURE SHORT-TIME MEDIA STERILIZATION – Sponsored by AstraZeneca
This group worked with AstraZeneca, a global biopharmaceutical company which manufactures monoclonal antibody products utilizing cell culture processes. The group evaluated options to add HTST (high temperature, short time) media treatment capability in a new manufacturing facility, to mitigate the risk of viral contamination of mammalian cultures. If a viral contamination of a culture occurs, the required decontamination efforts significantly impact manufacturing operations and reduce AstraZeneca’s ability to deliver vital medicines to patients. The culture process requires treatment of four types of media and one glucose solution that all must be sterilized in the system. Their project provides the design, sizing and throughput, and cost analysis for two automated HTST systems for media treatment as well as a cleaning process for the equipment used. The group hopes to see this design implemented in the manufacturing facility in the near future.
ELECTROSPINNING OF DECELLULARIZED ADIPOSE TISSUE – Mentored by CBE & ME Faculty, Drs. Matthew Kipper and Ketul Popat
This project, under the guidance of Dr. Matthew Kipper of CBE and Dr. Ketul Popat of ME, designed a new process for the production of engineered tissues. The engineered tissue consists of stable, nanostructured fibers made of decellularized adipose tissue (DAT). The process for production of these new engineered tissues involves processing adipose tissue in a suitable solvent condition by electrospinning to form fibers with tissue in a suitable solvent condition. The resulting fiber material will serve as a for cell and tissue culture. Since they are composed of biologically-derived material, the group expects that DAT nanofibers will have improved performance when compared with synthetic polymer-derived scaffolds, currently on the market. They a variety of parameters, i.e. supply voltage, solvent, and solution supply rate, to control the scaffold formation and optimize the DAT nanofiber diameter.
DESIGN OF NOVEL SMALL MOLECULE INHIBITORS OF ZIKA NS5 METHYLTRANSFERASE – Mentored by Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Faculty, Dr. Mark Brown
This team worked to computationally design a vaccination for the 2016 global outbreak of the Zika Virus. The group dived into the effects of NS5 Methyltransferase, a nonstructural protein encoded by the RNA genome of Zika that accelerates two methylations of the RNA structure, which are essential for the virus’s survival. With that information at hand, the group computationally built a set of small molecule inhibitors that constrained the binding of the RNS structure to the protein, preventing methylation of Zika. Future work in this endeavor will include the synthesis and assessment of the drug, and in vitro and in vivo screens.
CARBON DIOXIDE MEMBRANE SEPARATION FROM FLUE GAS – Mentored by CBE Faculty, Drs. T. Gordon Smith and Travis Bailey
This team’s project explored a method of removing carbon dioxide from the flue gas of a coal powered plant for the purpose of capturing and storing carbon dioxide to reduce fossil fuel emissions into the atmosphere. In the past, various technologies have been proposed to accomplish this goal. This group researched the feasibility of using ionic membranes to see if there was room for improvement. The team used the Aspen Plus process design program to simulate the separation of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. A variety of ionic membranes were investigated. The team came up with an improved process which included revisions to the original membrane thickness and pressure for optimal membrane performance. An economic study suggests that this could be a realistic way to reduce fossil fuel emissions if a carbon credit of $50 per ton was available.