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Scale-up of mixer granulators for effective liquid distribution

Powder Technology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0032-5910(02)00023-2
  • Granulation
  • Nucleation
  • Binder Dispersion
  • Spray Flux
  • Powder Flux
  • Powder Velocity
  • Lactose
  • Mathematics


Abstract There is considerable anecdotal evidence from industry that poor wetting and liquid distribution can lead to broad granule size distributions in mixer granulators. Current scale-up scenarios lead to poor liquid distribution and a wider product size distribution. There are two issues to consider when scaling up: the size and nature of the spray zone and the powder flow patterns as a function of granulator scale. Short, nucleation-only experiments in a 25L PMA Fielder mixer using lactose powder with water and HPC solutions demonstrated the existence of different nucleation regimes depending on the spray flux Ψ a—from drop-controlled nucleation to caking. In the drop-controlled regime at low Ψ a values, each drop forms a single nucleus and the nuclei distribution is controlled by the spray droplet size distribution. As Ψ a increases, the distribution broadens rapidly as the droplets overlap and coalesce in the spray zone. The results are in excellent agreement with previous experiments and confirm that for drop-controlled nucleation, Ψ a should be less than 0.1. Granulator flow studies showed that there are two powder flow regimes—bumping and roping. The powder flow goes through a transition from bumping to roping as impeller speed is increased. The roping regime gives good bed turn over and stable flow patterns. This regime is recommended for good liquid distribution and nucleation. Powder surface velocities as a function of impeller speed were measured using high-speed video equipment and MetaMorph image analysis software. Powder surface velocities were 0.2 to 1 ms −1—an order of magnitude lower than the impeller tip speed. Assuming geometrically similar granulators, impeller speed should be set to maintain constant Froude number during scale-up rather than constant tip speed to ensure operation in the roping regime.

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