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How to optimize fluidized bed granulation

Views: 32     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-06-02      Origin: Site

Fluidized Bed Granulation: Introduction

Are you wondering, How a Fluidized Bed Granulation works?  and what is the application of fluidized bed granulators Today, I’ll take you through the:

Fluidized Bed Granulation Manufactured by Hywell

You can also visit our Fluid bed granulator product Page here where you can request a quote and also read about fluid bed processors.

Drying is a key unit process in the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries. It requires heating making it capital and energy-intensive. Drying may make up 60-70% of the total production cost.

Fluid bed dryer granulators have been widely adopted for drying granules and powders in solid-dosage drug manufacture.  Hywell produces very high-quality bed dryers at competitive factory prices.

Introduction to Fluidized Bed Granulation

Pharmaceutical manufacturing requires precise control over the production of solid dosage forms. Granulation, the process of transforming fine powder particles into larger granules, plays a crucial role in achieving uniformity, flowability, and stability of the final product. Fluidized bed granulation offers an efficient and versatile method to achieve these objectives. granulation includes dry granulation and wet granulation. wet granulation includes different kinds of machines, such as fluid bed spray granulators, basket granulators, swing granulators(oscillating granulators), and high shear mixer granulators.

Fluidized bed granulation can be classified as a single-tank process because the powder can be mixed, granulated, and dried in the same unit, facilitating product transfer and minimizing cross-contamination. In addition, the fluidized bed also enhances heat and mass transfer between the fluidizing air and solid particles, resulting in uniform temperature distribution within the product bed and a relatively short processing time. Compared to high-shear granulation, fluidized bed technology generally produces particles with a narrower particle size distribution and no oversized particles. This reduces unnecessary multiple granulations and speeds up drying.

Fluidized bed granulation is reported to be more porous, less dense and more compressible than those produced by high shear wet granulation. The optimal particle size range for fluidization is 50 to 2000 μm. The average particle size should be between 50 and 5000 μm to avoid excessive channeling and plug flow. Since fine powder has a very large surface area, the adhesive cohesion increases and leads to aggregation; therefore, in order to avoid excessive escape of fine powder, ultra-dense and inappropriate collection bags are usually selected to cause fluidization imbalance. For fine particles smaller than 50 μm and particles that cannot be fluidized, the powder bed must be treated by mechanical rake and other methods, which increases equipment, cleaning and maintenance costs. The critical size that traditional fluidized beds cannot discretely process ordinary pharmaceutical powders is about 20 μm. According to Geldart’s flow diagram, below this limit, stable flow without any delay is difficult.

Handling powder mixtures containing components of different densities is another challenge, as differences in the fluidization behavior of different formulation components can lead to bed separation and uneven mixing. In addition to these powder properties, the ability of binder droplets to spread in the powder bed is also critical during fluidized bed granulation. Therefore, granulation during fluidization is highly dependent on liquid diffusion phenomena. Obviously, fluidized bed granulation is a complex process. In addition to material-related factors such as the nature and characteristics of ingredients in the formula, process factors related to the granulation and drying stages will also affect the results.

The Process of Fluidized Bed Granulation

1. How Does Fluidization Occur?

The working principle of a fluidized bed is based on the theoretical basis that if gas is allowed to flow through a bed of granular solids at a velocity greater than the granule settling velocity and less than the pneumatic conveying and equal to the minimum fluidization velocity (Umf), the solid portion will be suspended in the upward movement The gas flow exerts a resistance high enough to overcome the downward force of gravity. Resistance is the friction force exerted by the gas on the granules; the resistance exerted by the granules on the gas is equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.

As the airflow rate increases, the viscous resistance of individual granules in the packed bed increases, increasing bed pressure drop (ΔP). Up to a certain point, the drag force experienced by the individual granules is equal to their apparent weight; then the volume of the bed begins to expand. Individual granules are no longer in contact with neighboring granules but are supported by the fluid, and fluidization begins. For very viscous powders, the primary granules may be bound by van der Waals forces and may fluidize into agglomerated granules.

So when a granule becomes more fluidized, it affects the local gas velocity around it due to these drag forces. For granules with irregular shapes, the effect of drag is more significant. Above the minimum fluidization velocity, any additional gas introduced should pass through the bed in the form of bubbles.  Van der Waals forces play a dominant role in powder handling and fluidization processes, but electrostatic forces also have a strong influence on the behavior of the process. Other potential forces are liquid and solid bridges. Possible interactions with intergranular forces are granule-granule, granule-chamber, and granule-gas interactions. Two methods, the minimum fluidization velocity Umf and the Geldart classification, are generally recognized for their ability to predict and characterize the fluidization behavior of solids.

2. Type Of Fluidized Bed

In fluidized beds, different fluidized bed patterns can be observed, depending on the fluidization speed, product density, shape, and weight of the product in the pot. Density directly changes the net gravitational force acting on the granule, and therefore the minimum resistance or speed required to lift the granule. Shape not only changes the relationship between drag force and velocity but also changes the filling characteristics of the fixed bed and the associated void spaces and fluid velocities through them.

The calculated gas velocity (Umf) over the entire bed cross-section is called the minimum or incipient fluidization velocity. During initial fluidization, the bed assumes a liquid form and is self-balanced, flowing and transmitting hydrostatic forces (lower-density objects float on the bed surface). At low gas velocities, the granule bed is actually a packed bed and the pressure drop is proportional to the surface velocity. As the gas velocity increases, a point is reached where the behavior of the bed changes from fixed granules to suspended granules. At the initial point of fluidization, the pressure drop across the bed will be very close to the weight of the granules divided by the cross-sectional area of the bed. During the initial fluidization process, the granules are very close together and have no real movement; in order to achieve uniform mixing, vigorous mixing needs to be achieved by increasing the gas velocity through different gas flow distributors.

When the gas flow rate exceeds the minimum fluidization point, the fluidized bed looks much like the gas rises rapidly and bursts at the surface. The formation of bubbles is very close to the bottom of the bed and very close to the airflow distributor, so the design of the air flow distributor has a great impact on the characteristics of the fluidized bed. Increasing the surface fluidization velocity above the minimum fluidization velocity results in the formation of “bubbles” that arise in the bed. Bed expansion is mainly caused by the space occupied by bubbles, and the surface gas velocity increases significantly. As these little bubbles rise from the bed, they tend to coalesce together. This creates larger and fewer bubbles than those near the airflow distributor. In a bubbling bed, mixing is caused not only by the vertical movement and collapse of bubbles on the bed surface, but also by the lateral movement of bubbles caused by the interaction and merger of adjacent bubbles.

When the solids concentration throughout the bed is not uniform and the concentration fluctuates over time, this type of fluidization is called aggregate fluidization.

A slug bed is a fluid bed in which air bubbles occupy the entire cross-section of the product container and divide the bed into several layers.

3. Control Air Flow Speed

Control of airflow rates is critical to efficient fluidized beds for drying, granulating, and coating. Only when the granules are suspended in the airflow during the treatment process can the fluidized bed achieve the advantages of rapid heat and mass transfer. In order to obtain proper fluidization of the product, the following factors must be considered:

01. Product weight (lot size).

02. granulesize, shape, and density.

03. Powder flow characteristics.

04. The relationship between the capacity of the fluidized bed and the air volume and position of the fan and the position of the fluidization unit.

05. Minimum and maximum recommended capacity of the pot.

The control of airflow speed can first be achieved through the selected airflow distributor. The choice of distributor depends on factors such as the type of material and its granule size, density, shape, quantity, fan air volume and the location of the system. Distributor selection and further instructions are provided in Chapter 3. The type and geometry of the distributor have a significant impact on the minimum fluidization velocity value. Increasing the pore diameter of the orifice plate distributor will reduce the minimum fluidization velocity (voiceover: I wonder if you can understand this sentence? The premise is that when the air volume remains unchanged, the ventilation distributor area of the same size increases the orifice plate aperture, which is equivalent to increasing the ventilation area, so the speed decreases).

Advantages of Fluidized Bed Granulation

Fluidized bed granulation offers several advantages over other granulation techniques. Firstly, it allows for excellent control over the granule properties, such as size, shape, and density. This control ensures uniformity and reproducibility of the final product. Additionally, the fluidized state provides efficient heat and mass transfer, leading to faster drying times. The process is also highly scalable, allowing for easy transition from laboratory-scale to commercial production.

Disadvantages of Fluidized Bed Granulation

Although fluidized bed granulation has numerous advantages, it is not without limitations. One of the challenges is the potential for particle attrition, leading to the generation of fine dust. This issue can be mitigated through the use of appropriate equipment and process optimization. Another disadvantage is the limited suitability for moisture-sensitive materials, as the drying process involves the application of heat. Proper understanding of the materials and process parameters is crucial to overcome these challenges.

Factors Affecting Fluidized Bed Granulation

Several factors influence the success of fluidized bed granulation. These factors need to be carefully considered and optimized to achieve the desired granule properties. The key factors include:

  1. Powder Properties

    The properties of the powder materials, such as particle size, shape, and surface characteristics, play a significant role in fluidization behavior and granule formation. Fine powders with cohesive properties may require additional measures to ensure proper fluidization.

  2. Binder Solution

    The choice of binder solution and its concentration greatly impacts the binding efficiency and strength of the granules. Different binders, such as polymers or adhesives, can be used depending on the desired characteristics of the granules.

  3. Process Parameters

    Various process parameters, including the air flow rate, inlet temperature, spraying rate, and bed height, affect the granule formation. These parameters need to be optimized to achieve the desired granule size, shape, and uniformity.

  4. Equipment Design

    The design and configuration of the fluidized bed granulator, including the shape and size of the processing chamber, the air distribution system, and the spray system, influence the overall process efficiency and the quality of the granules.

Equipment Used in Fluidized Bed Granulation

Fluidized bed granulation requires specialized equipment to achieve optimal results. The key component is the fluidized bed granulator, which consists of a processing chamber, an air distribution system, and a spray system. The processing chamber allows for the fluidization of powder particles and the formation of granules. The air distribution system provides uniform airflow throughout the chamber, ensuring proper fluidization. The spray system, typically equipped with high-pressure nozzles, enables precise and controlled spraying of the binder solution. Additionally, equipment for drying and sieving the granules is essential to complete the process.

Applications of Fluidized Bed Granulation

Fluidized bed granulation finds extensive applications in the pharmaceutical industry. Some of the common applications include:

  1. Tablet Formulation

    Fluidized bed granulation is widely used in the production of granules for tablet formulation. The uniformity of granule size and shape achieved through this process ensures consistent drug content in each tablet, leading to reliable dosage forms.

  2. Controlled Release Formulations

    The ability to incorporate functional coatings makes fluidized bed granulation suitable for developing controlled release formulations. By applying enteric coatings or other specialized coatings, the release of the drug can be tailored to specific requirements, such as pH-dependent or time-dependent release.

  3. Direct Compression Formulations

    Fluidized bed granulation is also employed in the production of granules suitable for direct compression. Directly compressible granules have excellent flowability and compressibility properties, making them ideal for high-speed tablet manufacturing.

  4. Multi-Component Formulations

    Complex formulations containing multiple active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and excipients can be successfully granulated using fluidized bed granulation. The process allows for the uniform mixing of all components, resulting in homogenous granules.

  5. Modified Drug Release Profiles

    Fluidized bed granulation enables the production of granules with modified drug release profiles. By adjusting the process parameters and binder characteristics, sustained or extended drug release can be achieved, providing controlled drug delivery.

Comparison of Fluidized Bed Granulation with Other Granulation Techniques

Fluidized bed granulation offers several advantages when compared to alternative granulation techniques. In comparison to wet granulation, which involves the use of large volumes of liquid binders, fluidized bed granulation requires smaller amounts of binder solution, leading to reduced drying times and energy consumption. Dry granulation techniques, such as roller compaction, require additional steps to achieve granules, making fluidized bed granulation a more straightforward and time-efficient process. Furthermore, fluidized bed granulation allows for precise control over the granule properties, resulting in improved product uniformity.

Troubleshooting in Fluidized Bed Granulation

While fluidized bed granulation is a robust and versatile process, certain issues may arise during operation. One common challenge is the formation of agglomerates or oversized granules, which can lead to uneven particle size distribution and poor flowability. This issue can be addressed by adjusting the spraying rate, binder concentration, or air flow rate to ensure proper granule growth. Another potential problem is the occurrence of nozzle blockages due to the precipitation of the binder solution. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the spray system can help prevent this issue. It is crucial to monitor and optimize process parameters to troubleshoot and resolve any potential problems.

Case Studies and Success Stories of Fluidized Bed Granulation

Numerous pharmaceutical companies have successfully implemented fluidized bed granulation in their manufacturing processes, leading to improved product quality and efficiency. Case studies and success stories highlight the diverse applications and benefits of this technique. For example, Company X, a leading pharmaceutical manufacturer, utilized fluidized bed granulation to develop a controlled-release formulation of a widely prescribed cardiovascular drug. The resulting granules exhibited excellent content uniformity, extended drug release profiles, and enhanced patient compliance. Similarly, Company Y employed fluidized bed granulation to produce directly compressible granules for a complex multi-component formulation, achieving superior flow properties and tablet compatibility.

Future Trends and Advancements in Fluidized Bed Granulation

Fluidized bed granulation is a continuously evolving field, and several trends and advancements are shaping its future. Some of the key trends include:

  1. Novel Binders and Excipients

    Researchers are actively exploring new binders and excipients with improved binding properties, controlled release characteristics, and enhanced functionality. These advancements will further optimize granule properties and expand the range of applications for fluidized bed granulation.

  2. Process Analytical Technology (PAT)

    The integration of advanced PAT tools into fluidized bed granulation systems enables real-time monitoring and control of critical process parameters. This data-driven approach enhances process understanding, facilitates process optimization, and ensures consistent product quality.

  3. Intelligent Process Control

    The incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms into fluidized bed granulation systems holds tremendous potential. AI-powered systems can analyze complex process data, identify patterns, and optimize process parameters in real-time, leading to enhanced efficiency, reduced waste, and improved product quality.

  4. Continuous Manufacturing

    Continuous manufacturing is gaining popularity in the pharmaceutical industry due to its efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Fluidized bed granulation can be seamlessly integrated into continuous manufacturing platforms, enabling continuous production of granules with consistent quality and reduced process variability.

  5. Sustainability and Green Manufacturing

    As the focus on sustainability increases, efforts are being made to make granulation processes more environmentally friendly. This includes the use of eco-friendly binders, energy-efficient drying methods, and minimizing waste generation. Fluidized bed granulation, with its efficient drying and reduced binder requirements, aligns well with green manufacturing principles.

In conclusion, fluidized bed granulation is a highly effective and versatile technique in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Its ability to produce uniform granules with controlled properties makes it an attractive choice for various solid dosage forms. With ongoing research and advancements in novel binders, process analytics, and intelligent process control, fluidized bed granulation is poised for further improvements and will continue to play a crucial role in shaping the future of pharmaceutical manufacturing.


Fluidized bed granulation is a highly effective and versatile technique in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Its ability to produce uniform granules with controlled properties has made it a preferred choice for various solid dosage forms. The advantages of fluidized bed granulation, such as precise control over granule properties, efficient drying, and scalability, contribute to improved product quality, manufacturing efficiency, and patient satisfaction. Despite some limitations, proper understanding of the process parameters and equipment selection can help overcome challenges and optimize the granulation process. With ongoing research and advancements, fluidized bed granulation is expected to play a crucial role in shaping the future of pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can fluidized bed granulation be used for moisture-sensitive materials?

Yes, fluidized bed granulation can be employed for moisture-sensitive materials. However, careful consideration of the drying process and optimization of parameters are required to minimize moisture exposure and potential degradation.

2. Is fluidized bed granulation suitable for large-scale production?

Absolutely. Fluidized bed granulation is highly scalable and can be seamlessly transitioned from laboratory-scale to commercial production with proper equipment and process optimization.

3. What are the advantages of fluidized bed granulation over wet granulation?

Fluidized bed granulation requires smaller amounts of binder solution, leading to reduced drying times and energy consumption compared to wet granulation. It also provides precise control over granule properties and improved product uniformity.

4. Can fluidized bed granulation be combined with other manufacturing processes?

Yes, fluidized bed granulation can be integrated with other processes such as coating, drying, and tableting, allowing for a streamlined manufacturing workflow and enhanced product performance.

5. What are the future prospects for fluidized bed granulation?

The future of fluidized bed granulation looks promising, with ongoing advancements in novel binders, PAT tools, and intelligent process control. These developments will further improve process efficiency, product quality, and optimization in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

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