• Article

Flow Properties of Selected Pharmaceutical Powders from A Vibrating Spatula

Studies have been performed to characterize the flow of certain powders of pharmaceutical interest from a vibrating spatula. Lactose, cromolyn sodium, sodium chloride and charcoal powders were prepared by milling or sieving. Jet milling yielded micronized powder (1-10 mum), which was recovered from the product jar or metal cyclone. Particles in the larger size ranges were prepared by sieving. Photomicrograph images of the products were obtained by scanning electron microscopy. All of the powders were subjected to flow studies from vibrating beds to a top loading pan balance. Cumulative mass versus time, flow profiles were plotted. Bulk flow properties, as reflected in mass flow rates (M(i)), were assessed. Irregular flow patterns were obtained for lactose, cromolyn sodium and charcoal, whereas sodium chloride was free flowing. The lengths of the lines depicting cumulative mass versus time, for samples of each material, were estimated using the inswing structured walk technique. Stride lengths (lambda) of 1-100 mm were employed. Fractal dimensions were obtained from graphs of the logarithm of the cumulative mass versus time line length plotted against the logarithm of the stride length. Thus, flow irregularities were indicated by fractal dimensions (delta). In all of the powders studied, mass flow rates increased as the particle size increased. Sodium chloride did not exhibit fractal behavior (delta less-than-or-equal-to 1.007), as there were no flow irregularities. Lactose, cromolyn sodium and charcoal did not appear to exhibit fractal behavior (delta less-than-or-equal-to 1.010) at large stride lengths (lambda = 15-100 mm). At small stride lengths (lambda = 1-10 mm) these materials did exhibit fractal behavior (delta = 1.029-1.059) indicative of flow irregularity. This method may be used to numerically quantify uniformity of flow from a vibrating spatula, and would be useful in a number of industrial processes


Hickey, A., & Concessio, NM. (1994). Flow Properties of Selected Pharmaceutical Powders from A Vibrating Spatula. Particle & Particle Systems Characterization, 11(6), 457-462. https://doi.org/10.1002/ppsc.19940110609

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