Simulation Qualification for Mixing Processes

In many practical cases diligent simulation engineering includes a validation or qualification process to ensure suitability of the chosen simulation approach for a particular setting. This is not only, but especially, true in the pharmaceutical industry with its high standards for safe conduct and strict standards that are constantly checked by regulatory authorities. Here we show how we approach this issue at the example of a mixing vessel.


 

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The first step in such a validation process - and basically in any simulation - is to determine the exact issue that needs to be described by the simulation. It is a big difference whether the simulation needs to predict mixing time (e.g. dissolving salt, homogenizing a suspension), shear stresses (for many biogenic substances), wall attrition or spout formation and gas intake.

When a suitable simulation model has been selected, we start to look for published, peer-reviewed literature containing data that can be compared with our simulation. Lacking published literature we also design and conduct our own experiments. Once the data has been found or generated, the experiment is reproduced in the virtual simulation environment. By fine-tuning the often dozens of parameters that influence a simulation we identify the exact settings that are able to predict the results of the experiment. The process is more involved than I describe it here, with checking of robustness, upper and lower limits, cross checking with different sources etc. but essentially that's the gist of it. The image shows the comparison of a tuned simulation and published measurements.

Only when a suitable mathematical simulation model and the proper set of parameters has been identified, it is possible to run the actual predictive simulations to yield results with high confidence. Especially for the pharmaceutical industry, we also offer extensive documentation including version control, full software source code, human readable result files and more to make compliance processes as transparent as possible - read more about this in our article about our CFD-simulation GxP support services for the pharmaceutical industry.

So when it is time to replace that old propeller that has been in service the last couple of years, save yourself some headaches planning an expensive and laborous physical validation processes and let us conduct the tests in our virtual laboratory! Just let us know!