Eastman Chemical Company broke ground on its good manufacturing practice (cGMP) facility in 1999.
Eastman Chemical Company's new facility in Batesville, Arkansas, US.
Graph showing relationship between spending on health and GDP.

In 1999, Eastman Chemical Company began constructing a small-scale current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) facility in Arkansas, US.

Designed and constructed by Kvaerner Engineering, the plant produces custom pharmaceutical intermediates and bulk actives, as well as fine chemicals. It was the first of two cGMP manufacturing plants to be built at Eastman’s Arkansas site.

The small-scale plant was fully operational by Q4 2000. Construction of the large-scale plant started in 2001 and was completed by 2003.

FutureFuel Chemical Company now operates the former Eastman Chemical Company 24MMgy biodiesel plant in Batesville.

Eastman cGMP North American expansion project

Headquartered in Kingsport, Tennessee, Eastman Chemical Company manufactures and markets chemicals, fibres and plastics.

The small-scale plant in Arkansas was the first part of the company’s two-phase cGMP North American campaign. It preceded the construction of another commercial-scale cGMP plant capable of manufacturing multiple metric tons of pharmaceutical intermediates and bulk actives.

The small-scale plant manufactures pharmaceutical intermediates and bulk actives to meeet cGMP guidelines in quantities ranging from grams to metric tons. It has two main sections:

  • The smaller section houses 22l reaction systems for manufacturing initial quantities of new chemical entities (NCE) under cGMP conditions
  • The larger section manufactures multiple-kilogram to metric-ton quantities of cGMP pharmaceutical intermediates and bulk actives in a mix of 100 and 300 gallon reaction vessels. These vessels offer flexibility for a host of organic syntheses, including hydrogenation, halogenation and low-temperature reactions

cGMP plant uses wide range of technology

The technology employed at the Arkansas facility ranges from general-purpose batch processing equipment featuring computer-controlled components to small-scale and commercial-scale cGMP plants. Dedicated continuous processing facilities are also available to meet customer production requirements.

“The small-scale plant was the first part of the company’s two-phase cGMP North American campaign to expand in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Batch reactors (more than 60 made of glass and stainless steel), special reactors (chlorinators and sulfonators), continuous equipment (dedicated and limited general-purpose) and a cryogenic hastelloy reactor are used for the synthetic process.

Centrifuges (Hastelloy and stainless steel), nutsches (epoxy and stainless steel) and a Flaker system are used to carry out the isolation process.

Meanwhile, Eastman uses process vacuum stills (multiple receivers) and batch vacuum stills (glass and stainless steel) for the distillation process.

For the auxiliary process, it uses rotary vacuum dryers (glass and stainless steel) and a solvent recovery bulk storage clarification filter Hastelloy auto filter dryer.

Lab capabilities and storage space

The laboratory at the small plant comprises more than 13,000ft² of modern lab space. It offers comprehensive analytical process improvement and product development services.

The laboratory can perform reaction calorimetry, kinetics and thermal hazard analysis, as well as reaction modelling (using simulation software), mobile real-time infra-red (RT IR) reaction analysis, and process instrumentation analysis.

General-purpose bulk storage and dedicated bulk storage facilities (including glass, stainless steel and rubber-lined vessels) are available for solvent, raw-material and finished-product storage. Warehousing and distribution space comprises 200,000ft² of heated space, 4,800ft² of refrigerated space and additional room for special storage needs.

Plant sold

In July 2006, the Eastman Chemical plant was sold to Viceroy Acquisition Corporation. The deal was completed by the end of 2006.

The president of Eastman Chemical Company and head of the Chemicals and Fibers business group Jim Rogers said: “The Arkansas facility has been an important part of Eastman’s business since the late 1970s.

“In July 2006 the Eastman Chemical plant was sold, with the deal completed by the end of 2006, to Viceroy Acquisition Corporation.”

“However, it does not fit with the company’s current strategy of driving growth in our core businesses and on taking full advantage of new growth opportunities. This divestiture will result in a better alignment of company resources with our strategy.”

The plant not only manufactures pharmaceutical ingredients and fine chemicals but also had become a major producer of biodiesel in the State of Arkansas. The site was purchased for $75m and all of the 408 personnel were retained.

The plant’s cGMP facility still produces organic compounds for fibres, food and beverage production, as well as household and personal products and pharmaceuticals.