22 December 2003 00:00 [Source: PCE]
Pratteln-based SF-Chem has been a stalwart of the Swiss chemical industry for more than 80 years.
SF-Chem is pursuing a growth strategy with its independently operated business units - chemicals and custom manufacturing - to ensure an independent worldwide market position.
The core strategies are to expand, based on sulphur- and chlorine-based intermediates, and custom manufacturing, specifically the development of custom-tailored, specific solutions for the pharmaceutical, agrochemical and speciality chemicals industries.
SF-Chem's custom manufacturing operations offer customers a comprehensive service encompassing process development, scale-up and production under cGMP conditions. The company can also support its customers in registration matters, for example by compiling Drug Master Files.
SF-Chem's multipurpose facilities are divided into organisational units, each in a separate building. The company is highly specialised in chlorine and sulfur chemistry. Chlorinations and sulfonations reagents are produced on-site. The safe handling of corrosive and hazardous material is one of the firm's core competencies, says marketing manager chemicals, Joerg Schrickel.
The company is always looking to extend its technology reach. Earlier this year SF-Chem began production of pivaloyl chloride on a commercial scale in a new acid chloride plant. Pivaloyl chloride is an intermediate for pharmaceuticals, pesticides, crop protection agents, and is also used on a large scale in industrial applications, such as organic peroxides.
The plant has a capacity of 7000 tonne and has enlarged SF-Chem's total capacity for the production of acid chlorides (or similar products deriving from chlorination with thionyl chloride) to 24 000 tonne/year. SF-Chem already operates several chlorination plants, each with a capacity of between 1500 and 4000 tonne/year. Most of these are multipurpose plants.
SF-Chem has a unique back-integration and recycling system for the recycling of waste hydrogen chloride and sulphur dioxide, and for handling the on-site production of chlorine and sulphur trioxide.
'Careful management of raw material resources and compliance with the principles of responsible care are of vital significance to us,' says Schrickel. 'This is why we have been recycling our two largest by-products, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen chloride, since 1970; they are reused as starting materials for manufacturing sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid respectively.'
Recently SF-Chem successfully completed a thorough two-day inspection by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company passed their first FDA audit with no 483 citations. At the summary meeting, the FDA inspector was highly complimentary of the firm's management systems.
Over the past five years, SF-Chem has been successfully manufacturing registered advanced intermediates under Drug Master File for several major international pharmaceutical companies. It also maintains its ISO-9001 certification in all functional areas with the Swiss Association for Quality and Management Systems, SQS. SF-Chem received their latest certificate on May 3, 2003; which is valid through May 2, 2006.
SF-Chem maintains such high-quality standards to attract pharmaceutical companies that are searching for highly qualified cGMP suppliers of advanced intermediates and APIs. The company's cGMP production capacity is more than 500 tonne/year; it also operates several other non-GMP production facilities at the same site. These other non-GMP products are made with similar high-quality standards.
The company also recently broadened its range of aliphatic and aromatic sulfonyl chlorides and their derivatives with new products, namely 2,4,6-Triisopropylbenzene sulfonyl chloride and 2,4,6-Trimethylbenzene sulfonyl chloride.
Both products were recently launched and are now part of the regular product portfolio.
For direct sulfonation or chlorosulfonation of aromatics to the corresponding sulfonic acids and chlorides respectively, either liquid sulfur trioxide, chlorosulfonic acid or amine sulfur trioxide complexes are used. The reaction is followed by an in-situ chlorination with thionyl chloride. Derivatives of sulfonyl chlorides can be easily prepared in subsequent reactions.
Aliphatic sulfonyl chlorides are produced by a different route. Alkyl sulfonyl chlorides are produced by oxidation and chlorination of the corresponding mercaptane compounds in the presence of chlorine. The SF-Chem product range includes 'smaller' 1-Propane sulfonyl chloride and 1-Butane sulfonyl chloride up to 'larger' Dodecane sulfonyl chloride.
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