22 December 2003 00:00 [Source: PCE]
When it comes to managing high-risk chemical reactions, few have as much experience of potentially explosive situations as Valsynthese, the Valais-based custom synthesis specialist.
Valsynthese was established in 1983 as a subsidiary of Société Suisse des Explosifs (SSE). It is a medium-sized company dedicated to the production of active ingredients and intermediates for the pharmaceutical and chemical industry.
SSE was established more than a hundred years ago as a specialist explosives manufacturer. But by the 1970s it wished to diversify into the chemistry sector and, naturally, given its experience in the explosives sector, it started by concentrating on nitrations, oxidations and reductions.
The broad expertise acquired by the group in the field of explosives since its foundation also allows Valsynthese to perform rather hazardous chemical reactions, and consequently to produce a wide range of speciality and fine chemicals. The production facilities consist of several multipurpose lines with a current capacity of 1500 tonne/year. The existing infrastructure allows for the short-term doubling of this capacity.
'The objective of Valsynthese is to position itself as an enviable partner of the chemical and pharmaceutical community,' explains Christian Raboud. 'Due to the history of our parent company, SSE, in explosives, it was natural that Valsynthese should concentrate on hazardous chemistry.
'In addition, Chemfinet Services, the joint venture between Valsynthese and its North American representative, International Specialty Chemicals, is a major move towards the enforcement of its international presence. The website www. chemfinet.com is the world's premier web-based sourcing platform dedicated to the on-line procurement of custom manufactured or hard-to-find chemicals,' says Raboud.
The fine chemicals business has expanded significantly and is now split almost equally between explosives and fine chemicals.
On the fine chemicals side, about 85-90% of the business is from the pharmaceutical sector, of which about 70% is from exclusive patented products and 30% is from generics.
Valsynthese is also getting more involved earlier on in the development chain. Whereas previously it would be involved in the toll manufacture of the intermediates only, now it is utilising a laboratory and pilot plant to be involved at the early stages of product development through scale-up and onto full-scale manufacture.
In addition to its regular reactor capacity and other production equipment, Valsynthese also owns a facility for the treatment of acids and residual water, distillation towers for organic solvents and an incinerator for waste products. All installations operate in full compliance with the prescribed Swiss and European legislation and protection.
SSE was founded in 1894, following the need for explosives to tunnel the Simplon, the strategically important railway link between Switzerland and Italy.
Today SSE is not only at the forefront in the production of civil explosives but is also recognised as a reliable partner of the chemical and pharmaceutical community.
Because of its history in the explosives business, SSE's location, at Brig in the upper Rhone Valley is very secure: the plant is situated in a deep canyon surrounded by halls of rock, part of the same mountain range in the Alps which are home to the famous Matterhorn.
Thermal system ranging from -25°C to +200°C
Reaction vessels (total capacity 30m³)15 stainless steel/enamel units (500-4300L)
5 centrifuges (200-400 kg)
1 pressure/vacuum filter (300Kg)
1 vacuum mixing dryer (6200L)2 fluidised bed dryers (200Kg/800Kg)4 tray dryers (200kg)
2 distillation columns (up to 5m³/h)
2 extraction columns, 2 deionisation columns, 2 powder dosage/conveying systems, 1 homogeniser,
storage tanks (500m³)
Stainless steel/enamel reactors (60-300L)1 distillation unit
2 filtration units
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