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April 24th, 2008

Bedding down with fluidisation

Pharmaceutical companies may be able to use a more environmentally friendly drug processing method if researchers in the West Midlands can successfully develop a new technique for handling nanoparticles.

Teams at Birmingham and Warwick universities are hoping to solve the problem of capturing and preserving the properties of nanoparticles produced during supercritical fluid (SCF) precipitation processes by combining it with fluidised bed technology.

'If you produce a drug substance in the nanoparticle form, it is impossible to get such a material to flow; it agglomerates very easily and is very difficult to handle and deal with. We have got what we think is a novel way of turning that into a form that can be handled, using fluidised bed technology,' said Warwick's Prof Jonathan Seville.

Fluidised beds are widely used in many industries as reactors, dryers, agglomerators and coaters. They are used in the pharmaceutical industry for coating liquids on to tablets and capsules, rather than for handling powdered active drug substances collected from SCF processes. Fluidisation in the process occurs when a fluid, usually a gas, flows upwards through a bed of solid particles and causes them to be suspended, which makes them easier to handle.


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