May 10, 2020 — Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) now offers low-temperature spray drying technology to support microencapsulation. Conventional spray drying requires high temperatures, which excludes many materials used in encapsulation applications that degrade in heat.
Microencapsulation is a process that coats or enrobes tiny particles or droplets of a compound in a shell material to create tiny capsules or microspheres. Spray drying produces microspheres that serve a variety of purposes, from taste masking in food products to controlled release of pharmaceuticals.
“Our new electrostatic spray dryer offers faster, more efficient spray drying without exposing products to high temperatures,” said Dr. James Oxley, staff scientist in SwRI’s Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division. “This means heat-sensitive and volatile materials that traditionally don’t work well with spray drying now become an option. Electrostatic spray drying can benefit the production of pharmaceuticals, bioactives in food manufacturing, fragrances and more.”
SwRI now offers spray drying at temperatures as low as 40 degrees C. Traditional spray drying typically requires three times that temperature. With this addition, SwRI can support electrostatic spray drying for a variety of applications and formulations. The system supports CGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices) clinical trial material preparation. SwRI has FDA-inspected facilities with clean rooms meeting class standards of 10,000 to 100,000 particles per cubic feet. Clean rooms are classified according to the number and size of particles 0.5 µm or larger permitted per cubic foot of air to maintain low levels of particulates such as dust or other organisms to prevent air contamination during processing.
The new system is environmentally friendly and includes a built-in process solvent condensing capability with inert gas recirculation to eliminate emissions.
“Electrostatic spray drying is a relatively new technique and very few laboratories offer this capability. We’re excited to explore new possibilities,” Oxley said.