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Open Access Penetrometry and estimation of the flow rate of powder excipients

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In this work, penetrometry with a sphere was employed to study the flow properties of non-consolidated pharmaceutical powder excipients: sodium chloride, sodium citrate, boric acid, and sorbitol. In order to estimate flow rate, the pressure of penetration in Pascals was used. Penetrometry measurement with a sphere requires modification of the measurement container, in particular by decreasing the diameter of the container, to prevent undesirable movement of material in a direction opposite to that in which the sphere penetrates. Thus penetrometry by a sphere seems to be similar to indentation by the Brinell hardness tester. The pressure of penetration was determined from the depth of penetration by analogy with the Brinell hardness number and an equation for the inter conversion of the two variables is presented. The penetration pressure allowed direct estimation of the flow rate only for those powder excipients with a size fraction in the range of 0.250–0.630 mm. Using the ratio of penetration pressure to bulk density, a polynomial quadratic equation was generated from which the flow rates for the group of all tested powders could be estimated. Finally, if the inverse ratio of bulk density and penetration pressure was used as an independent variable, the flow rate could be estimated by linear regression with the coefficient of determination r2 = 0.9941. In conclusion, using sphere penetrometry, the flow properties of non-consolidated powder samples could be investigated by indentation. As a result, a linear regression in which the flow rate was directly proportional to the powder bulk density and inversely proportional to the penetration pressure could be best recommended for the estimation of the flow rate of powder excipients.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Pharmacy in Hradec Králové, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic 2: Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Pharmacy in Hradec Králové, Heyrovského 1203, Hradec Králové, 500 05, Czech Republic, Email:

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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  • Pharmazie is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical journals. As a peer-reviewed scientific journal, DiePharmazie is regularly indexed in Current Contents/Life Sciences, Excerpta Medica, Analytical Abstracts, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, Beilstein Current Facts in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Abstracts (CEABA) and Science Citation Index.
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