Fluidised hot melt granulation (FHMG) is a novel granulation technique for processing pharmaceutical powders. Several process and formulation parameters have been shown to significantly influence granulation characteristics within FHMG. In this study we have investigated the effect of the binder properties (binder particle size and binder viscosity) on agglomerate growth mechanisms within FHMG. Low-melting point co-polymers of polyoxyethylene–polyoxypropylene (Lutrol® F68 Poloxamer 188 and Lutrol® F127 Poloxamer 407) were used as meltable binders for FHMG, while standard ballotini beads were used as model fillers for this process. Standard sieve analysis was used to determine the size distribution of granules whereas we utilised fluorescence microscopy to investigate the distribution of binder within granules. This provided further insight into the growth mechanisms during FHMG. Binder particle size and viscosity were found to affect the onset time of granulation. Agglomerate growth achieved equilibrium within short time-scales and was shown to proceed by two competing processes, breakage of formed granules and re-agglomeration of fractured granules. Breakage was affected by the initial material properties (binder size and viscosity). When using binder with a small particle size (<250 µm), agglomerate growth via a distribution mechanism dominated. Increasing the binder particle size shifted the granulation mechanism such that agglomerates were formed predominantly via immersion. A critical ratio between binder diameter and filler has been calculated and this value may be useful for predicting or controlling granulation growth processes.
- Binder size
- Fluidised hot melt granulation
- Fluorescence microscopy
- Growth mechanism
- Size distribution