Raman spectroscopy – a light-scattering technique that can determine the composition and concentration of materials – is increasingly being used in biopharmaceutical processes, including the production of vaccines. Raman has a number of potential applications in both biopharmaceuticals and traditional pharmaceutical manufacturing, as well as in the oil & gas and chemical industries.
Endress+Hauser strengthened its commitment to advanced analytical technologies in 2013 with the acquisition of Kaiser Optical Systems, a leader in the field of Raman spectrographic instrumentation. With ever-increasing demand for the technology in process control applications, Endress+Hauser has since more than doubled the size of its manufacturing facility for Raman analysers and has assisted major pharmaceutical companies to use Raman in their processes.
Raman is not a new technique: the Indian physicist C.V. Raman was awarded the Nobel Prize for its discovery in 1930. But with unprecedented investment in the biopharmaceutical industry at present, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic, Raman is finding new applications in both vaccine and drug manufacturing.
Raman in bioprocesses
One of the applications that Raman can be used for is to monitor cell lines and optimise their use in bioprocess development, which may ultimately yield new therapeutic treatments based on biomolecules. The Raman technology measures directly online, at set intervals, the levels of various nutrients, such as cell density glucose and amino acids, via a probe inserted into the bioreactor. The probe directs a laser at the sample and measurements are made based on how the light interacts with the sample. Most recently one of Endress+Hauser’s customers has used Raman spectroscopy to monitor glucose levels and automate the addition of glucose into the bioreactor when it falls below the required concentration. The online system eliminates the need for discrete sampling and offline sample analysis. Unlike near infrared (NIR), Raman spectroscopy is not adversely affected by aqueous environments.
The other application of Raman spectroscopy within the pharmaceutical industry is in the research and manufacture of traditional pharmaceutical therapeutics. Raman has become a vital tool for process analytical technology (PAT) whereby the measurement system is integrated into the process. In this context Raman can be used for reaction monitoring, crystallisation studies, drying, granulation, blending, tablet concentration, coating and content uniformity.
Endress+Hauser has recently been working with a number of global pharmaceutical companies on the implementation of Raman spectroscopy. To further cement the position of Raman as a development tool in biopharmaceuticals, Endress+Hauser has agreed a collaboration with international pharmaceutical and laboratory equipment supplier Sartorius to provide Raman systems that will interface with the Sartorius ambr 15 and 250 systems. These systems from Sartorius allow automated bioprocess method development. Raman is the online measurement technique of choice for the Sartorius system, generating rapid results and shortening the time taken for bioprocess method development and optimisation, which in turn saves costs and can speed up the time to market of new treatments.
Raman also has applications in polymer manufacturing and in custody transfer of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Due to tightening environmental regulations and cost pressures, shipping companies are turning to LNG as an alternative to heavy fuel oil. Because of the high value of the cargo, it’s vital to accurately measure the LNG when it’s transferred from storage vessels to road tankers for distribution into the supply chain.
Whatever the application, the aim is to retrieve simple answers from complex data. Find out more about Raman spectroscopy here, or call 0161 286 5000 to discuss your process.