Brian Zacour

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2012


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





School of Pharmacy

Committee Chair

Carl A. Anderson

Committee Member

James K. Drennen III

Committee Member

Peter L. D. Wildfong

Committee Member

Ira S. Buckner

Committee Member

Tzuchi Ju


Design of experiments, First principle modeling, Fluid bed granulation and drying, Process analytical technology, Quality of design, Statistical tolerance


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has accepted the guidelines put forth by the International Conference on Harmonization (ICH-Q8) that allow for operational flexibility within a validated design space. These Quality by Design initiatives have allowed drug manufacturers to incorporate more rigorous scientific controls into their production streams.

Fully automated control systems can incorporate information about a process back into the system to adjust process variables to consistently hit product quality targets (feedback control), or monitor variability in raw materials or intermediate products to adjust downstream manufacturing operations (feedforward control). These controls enable increased process understanding, continuous process and product improvement, assurance of product quality, and the possibility of real-time release. Control systems require significant planning and an initial investment, but the improved product quality and manufacturing efficiency provide ample incentive for the expense.

The fluid bed granulation and drying unit operation was an excellent case study for control systems implementation because it is a complex unit operation with dynamic powder movement, high energy input, solid-liquid-gas interactions, and difficulty with scale-up development. Traditionally, fluid bed control systems have either used first principle calculations to control the internal process environment or purely empirical methods that incorporate online process measurements with process models. This dissertation was predicated on the development of a novel hybrid control system that combines the two traditional approaches.

The hybrid controls reduced the number of input factors for the creation of efficient experimental designs, reduced the variability between batches, enabled control of the drying process for a sensitive active pharmaceutical ingredient, rendered preconditioned air systems unnecessary, and facilitated the collection of data for the development of process models and the rigorous calculation of design spaces. Significant variably in the inlet airstream was able to be mitigated using feedforward controls, while process analytical technology provided immediate feedback about the process for strict control of process inputs. Tolerance surfaces provided the ideal tool for determining design spaces that assured the reduction of manufacturing risk among all future batches, and the information gained using small scale experimentation was leveraged to provide efficient scale-up, making these control systems feasible for consistent use.