Use of computational fluid dynamics for improving freeze-dryers design and process understanding. Part 1: Modelling the lyophilisation chamber

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Graphical abstractThis manuscript shows how computational models, mainly based on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), can be used to simulate different parts of an industrial freeze-drying equipment and to properly design them; in particular, the freeze-dryer chamber and the duct connecting the chamber with the condenser, with the valves and vanes eventually present are analysed in this work. In Part 1, it will be shown how CFD can be employed to improve specific designs, to perform geometry optimization, to evaluate different design choices and how it is useful to evaluate the effect on product drying and batch variance. Such an approach allows an in-depth process understanding and assessment of the critical aspects of lyophilisation. This can be done by running either steady-state or transient simulations with imposed sublimation rates or with multi-scale approaches. This methodology will be demonstrated on freeze-drying equipment of different sizes, investigating the influence of the equipment geometry and shelf inter-distance. The effect of valve type (butterfly and mushroom) and shape on duct conductance and critical flow conditions will be instead investigated in Part 2.

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