Compressed Air: Essential Utility For Pharma Industry

To address the issue of moisture, it must be ensured that the compressed air used in the various pharmaceutical processes is free from any form of contaminants like moisture/water, oil fumes, dust particles or any form of solid contaminants

Quality compressed air is at the heart of the pharmaceutical industry powering the various integral operations involved in the processing, manufacturing and packaging of pharmaceutical products. It finds application in a wide range of process that includes pneumatic processes required in the manufacturing of tablets and capsules. From giving the required texture, color and flavour to the tablet to regulating the right balance of ingredients and preventing the contamination of products, compressed air is a very critical and essential element in ensuring high-quality end products that meet the highest industrial standards.

Considering that globally India is the largest supplier of generic drugs, where it fulfills 50 per cent of various vaccine demand globally along with 40 per cent of generic demand in the US and 25 per cent of all medicines in the UK, it has secured a prominent position in the global pharmaceutical market. Moreover, as per the estimation by Indian Economic Survey 2021, the domestic market has the potential to grow 3 times in the decade to come. This has put great responsibility on the manufacturers to employ dry compressed air at every step of production and packaging to render quality drugs and medicines. Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) highly recommends the application of uncontaminated compressed air in the pharma industry to render high-quality end products. 

Moisture is a great source of deterrent in the pharma industry which immensely results in substandard products. The pharmaceutical products are inherently hygroscopic in nature due to which it undergoes physical, microbiological, enzymatic and biochemical deterioration even in the presence of the slightest moisture in the compressed air. This results in unwanted chemical reactions giving rise to serious repercussions. Not just this, the colour coating of the tablet changes in the presence of moisture, and it even causes blisters in the tablet that is responsible for the breakage of the tablets.

In addition to intervening with the manufacturing of the products, moisture in the compressed air is also responsible for the malfunctioning of pneumatic tools and machines. It causes the corrosion of pipelines, cylinders and other components and also interferes with operations. Moisture accounts for sluggish and inconsistent functioning of the pneumatic valve and cylinder. The problem further gets complicated when the moisture freezes in the cold weather. On the whole, it has heavy implications on the finance of the company where it increases the downtime of the pneumatic machines, resulting in their high maintenance cost. 

To address the issue of moisture, it must be ensured that the compressed air used in the various pharmaceutical processes is free from any form of contaminants like moisture/water, oil fumes, dust particles or any form of solid contaminants. It must be monitored very closely given that the slightest presence of contaminants can adversely compromise the authenticity of the end product. 

The highest compressed air quality can be attained by installing efficient compressed air dryers which treat the compressed air in the manufacturing and packaging units of various pharmaceutical processes. It comes with Compressed Air Treatment solutions backed up with a wide range of refrigeration and desiccant/adsorption dryers. Though the principle of drying differs in both types of dryers their result is the same aimed at the elimination of moisture from the compressed air.   

Processes requiring a pressure dew point between 3°C and 6°C make use of the refrigeration dryer which dries the air by cooling it down to nearly the freezing point. In order to achieve extra dry air with an atmospheric dew point between (-)40°C to (-)60°C, adsorption or desiccant drying is employed based on the principle of heatless regeneration involving desiccants to adsorb and desorb the water vapor.

Therefore, dry compressed air is an essential utility for the pharma industry. It provides that supporting structure for the pharmaceutical industry that ensures the highest quality products. It plays an essential role in removing any sort of contaminants present in the compressed air that not just helps in generating quality finished product, but makes sure the proper functioning of the pneumatic machines. 

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