Particle size reduction is a key process many industries use to transform bulky or randomly sized substances into uniformly sized, far smaller particles suitable for a wide range of applications. When done correctly, particle size reduction favorably alters certain key physiochemical properties of the raw material(s). The ultimate success of a given process
often depends on this precise size reduction. The creation of emulsions or suspensions, for example, is possible only after achieving appropriately sized particles.
Smaller Is Better
Properties that can be attained — or manipulated — through size reduction include: changes in reactivity or dissolution rate; improvements in the stability of suspensions; increases in efficacy of delivery (e.g., pharmaceutical applications ); changes in packing density and porosity, appearance, texture, flowability and viscosity.
Depending on the substance, its purpose and the industry involved, target particle sizes may range from macroscale (e.g., gravel), to vanishingly tiny nanoscale particles (e.g., pharma applications, etc.). Industries that depend on precise particle sizing include not only the pharmaceutical industry, but the food, nutraceutical and fine chemical industries, among others.
Tighter Is Better
Regardless of the size-range of a given set of particles, another important parameter is particle size distribution. A tight distribution exists when the great majority of size-reduced particles of a given substance fall within a narrow particle size range. In general, the tighter the distribution, the better the performance of the final product.
Efficiency is another important consideration when pursuing particle size reduction. Achieving reduction requires significant energy and time. The fewer passes required to achieve particle size reduction targets, the better. Obviously, fewer passes translates into less time, energy — and money — expended on this key phase of production.
Modern Microfluidizer® Technology
Obviously, we've come a long way since inventions of the water wheel and grinding stone. When it comes to particle size reduction, today's cutting edge microfluidizer technology employs minuscule, proprietary reaction chambers, where shear forces are magnified under remarkably high pressures to efficiently shear particles of all different types into extremely small, relatively uniformly sized particles. Microfluidics™ Microfluidizer® machines excel at achieving exceptionally tight particle size distributions, while saving time and energy.
At the heart of every Microfluidizer® machine is a unique, fixed-geometry, highly durable ceramic (or diamond) interaction chamber. High fluid pressures can be precisely controlled to produce extremely efficient high-shear forces, yielding tight particle size distribution curves. Perhaps just as importantly, Microfluidics™ Microfluidizer ® machines deliver consistent repeatability and scalability. The value of the latter is not to be underestimated.
Often when developing new processes and products, process engineers must face significant challenges as they scale up from small trial/developmental runs to full production runs. But Microfluidizer® homogenizers/processors from Microfluidics™ are designed with scalability in mind, helping to make this phase of production all but seamless.
Liposomes, Nanoencapsulation and More
Microfluidics™ Microfluidizer® processors excel at applications such as creating stable emulsions, solid-in-liquid suspensions, liposomes and nanoencapsulation
. Liposomes are small spherical lipid vesicles with a bi-layered membrane, which serves to protect encapsulated payloads, such as active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Liposomes are being harnessed to improve the efficiency and efficacy of drug therapies targeting everything from fungal and protozoan infections to viruses and cancer. Customers have successfully used Microfluidics™ Microfluidizers® to create nanoemulsions, liposomes and nanoencapsulated polymers, among other products.