In the pharmaceutical industry, size matters. More specifically, particle size plays a key role in the overall effectiveness and quality of many drugs, medicinal products (like creams and gels), and foodstuffs. All drugs contain elements known as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). And it’s crucial that these APIs have high solubility.
Broadly speaking, the smaller the API particle size, the higher the solubility, the higher the bioavailability, and ultimately, the better and more effective the drug is. As such, the process known as micronization has become an integral part of the pharmaceutical manufacturing process. Micronization is the process of reducing the average diameter of a solid substance’s particles.
This leads us to our topic of the day, namely, what is microfluidization and how does it work?
Essentially, microfluidization is a form of micronization that involves the use of fluid pressure to create and apply one or more of the following forces: cavitation, shear and impact to reduce the particle size of a given substance. (It is not the same process as emulsification, which is the combination of two normally unmixable liquids.) Here, we’ll explain in greater detail how microfluidization works and what benefits it can provide for pharmaceutical and foodstuff manufacturers.
The Micronization Process
Particle size reduction through the micronization process can occur in several different ways. Modern manufacturers may utilize one of several types of equipment to reduce the size of the particles in a given substance. Each of these pieces of machinery is designed for different purposes, and businesses may utilize different micronization techniques for different products.
Crushers, agitators, rotary mixers, blenders maybe used for less challenging mixing. Less challenging might mean that the material is easily broken down to smaller particles, has less of a tendency to re-agglomerate, or that the target end product has a wide tolerance of acceptability or that the target particle size in the high micron range. For more challenging applications, homogenizers, sonic mixers, bead mills, grinder and sheer mixes are employed.
For example, pharmaceutical companies may require the use of an ultra-fine grinder to produce nanoparticles in order to improve the bioavailability of a drug. On the other hand, a foodstuffs manufacturer with a less challenging product may be better off using a rotary mixer. What’s more, some businesses may have to use several different forms of micronization equipment to achieve their desired particle size reduction.
Using High Pressure Homogenizers for Microfluidization
High-pressure homogenizers are often an ideal alternative for manufacturers looking to achieve micronization in an accurate, precise, and efficient manner. That’s because –– unlike traditional micronization machinery –– high pressure homogenizers use multiple forces at once to break down and shape APIs and other particles. Here at Pion, for example, our high-pressure BEE homogenizers utilize a combination of forces — including turbulence, shear, cavitation, impact, and intensity — to generate nano-sized particles that can be more easily combined with other particles. What’s more, these forces can be tuned to produce the required results with the most efficient (shortest) process. Though microfluidization was not the principal reason for the creation of high-pressure homogenizers, many businesses prefer to use these homogenizers in the micronization process because of their superior performance capabilities. To sum up, the key benefits of using a high pressure homogenizer for micronization include:
- Tighter distribution of smaller particles.
- Better particle reduction in fewer passes.
- Increased manufacturing efficiency.
- Reduced manufacturing costs.
- Reduce the need for other premixing equipment and steps.
High pressure homogenizers help create products with longer shelf lives, increased bioavailability, and improved sensorial and biophysical properties. Lastly, Pion's high-pressure homogenizers possess specialized modular components that can be used for specific purposes. As such, our high-pressure homogenizers are perfectly suited to carry out the micronization process for a wide range of products, from pharmaceutical drugs, to foodstuffs, to sanitary products, and more.