CFD, Air Turnover, and the Pharmaceutical Industry

By Mike Kaler
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The pharmaceutical business is a multi-billion dollar global industry.  Each pill or powder that is produced costs tens of millions dollars to develop and that makes each pill a valuable commodity.  Imagine the value of an entire 25,000 sq.ft. warehouse full of those pills.

In order to become more efficient in the design, prototyping, production, and distribution of these high-value pharmaceuticals the industry has adopted the use of CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) throughout the process.  An article in Pharmaceutical Technology magazine in 2002 showed just how extensive the use of CFD is in the industry (  A 2010 article on the Revit Community website illustrated how CFD was used to create the proper storage environment for drugs once they were in distribution (

For its part, when a leading pharmaceutical company needed to provide very tight temperature control in their southern California warehouse containing $6 million dollars worth of expensive pills Applied Air performed a number of CFD analyses in order to optimize the performance of the proposed system.  The installing contractor, Pacific Rim Mechanical, not only saved hundreds of hours of field labor by using an Applied Air air turnover system but they were able to provide their customer with temperatures throughout the warehouse that did not deviate by more than 2 degrees from wall to wall and floor to ceiling.  This was critical for the shelf life of the drugs and the drug maker has an elaborate temperature and humidity monitoring system in the building with over 40 points set to alarm if conditions drift out of the acceptable range.  No alarms have been triggered in over 12 months of operation.