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Advantages & Disadvantages of Fluid Bed Dryer in Pharmaceutical Industry

Advantages and Disadvantages of Fluid Bed Dryers in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Fluid bed dryer (FBD) plays an integral role when it comes to processing materials in the pharmaceutical industry. At some point, whether in capsule filling or tablet manufacturing, you may wish to dry powder or pellets.

That is exactly where you will need a fluidized bed dryer machine. With an FBD, you can remove moisture from:

  • Active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs)
  • Drug formulations
  • Intermediate products in the pharmaceutical industry

However, before you choose FBD, it is critical to know whether the machine is suitable for your pharmaceutical products or not.

Advantages of Fluid Bed Drying Machine

· Homogenous Drying

During the fluidization process, the particles remain suspended in the air. At the same time, hot air passes through the particles thereby drying every particle.

Remember, every particle is in direct contact with hot air which ensures a homogenous drying process.

· Perfect Choice of Heat-Sensitive Products

Extreme temperature or heat may damage certain pharmaceutical products. Therefore, other conventional means such as oven drying may not be a perfect solution.

Therefore, you need a fluid bed dryer where the product is not in direct contact with extreme heat. Besides, the modern fluidized bed dryer principle of operation depends on certain sensors that can monitor critical material parameters during the process.

It can effectively dry materials at lower temperatures. Therefore, all your heat-sensitive products will be safe (desired properties will not be affected by heat).

Fluid Bed Dryer Machine
Fluid Bed Dryer Machine

· Efficient Material Drying Process

The fluidized bed dryer principle of operation guarantees high efficiency. Remember, during the fluidization process, every particle is in direct contact with hot air.

Therefore, this ensures a faster and uniform drying process. Moreover, the stream of air in a fluidized bed surrounds every particle for optimal drying.

Fluidization Principle
Fluidization Principle

· No Hot Spots in Dried Products

In fluid bed dryers, product particles are suspended in the air. Besides, the product is only in direct contact with the stream of air.

At any given instance, every particle moves within the FBD drying compartment, while hot air flows through the entire system.

This ensures uniform heat distribution. Even when you are processing thermolabile materials, the drying process remains safe for heat-sensitive materials.

· Suitable for Batch and Continuous Drying

Looking at the fluidized bed dryer diagrams you will realize there are two main configurations:

  • Horizontal fluidized bed dryer – suitable for the continuous drying process.
  • Vertical fluid bed dryer – common for the batch drying process.

With these two unique FBD designs, it can handle both batch and continuous material processing.

Fluidized Bed Dryer Machine
Fluidized Bed Dryer Machine

· High Thermal Efficiency

In case you are using an internal heat exchanger for the drying process, then a fluidized dryer can be thermally efficient.

Furthermore, you can also save energy due to the relatively short drying time compared to certain drying techniques. Remember, in fluidized bed drying systems, hot air and particles are in direct contact. This results in high heat and mass transfer rates.

The result is faster moisture removal at low temperatures which also saves on time and heating costs.

Furthermore, with an advanced gas recirculation system, you can achieve high thermal efficiency. That is, you will be using exhaust gas to dry material.

Still, you should remember that the need to keep particles suspended in the air for a long time can also lead to high energy consumption.

· Different Machine Sizes Available

Whether you are looking for an industrial fluidized bed dryer or R&D equipment, these machines come in many sizes and configurations. This makes fluid bed drying a perfect option both for large and small-scale applications.

· Faster Dying Process

A fluidized bed dryer offers a faster drying solution. The short drying time has many benefits such as:

  • Saving energy cost and time
  • Non hot spots

Most fluid bed dryer systems take about 30 to 40 minutes to achieve the desired drying threshold. This is unlike the conventional material drying systems which can take hours.

Note: The drying time in FBD will depend on the material property and moisture content you require.

· Affordable Drying Solution

Fluid bed drying machines offer affordable drying solutions for most heat-sensitive products. This is alongside the ease of adapting the machine to most manufacturing and processing needs.

Additionally, even the small machines are fully automated for easy operation and process monitoring.

In addition to these, other benefits of fluid bed dryer machines include:

  • Easy to handle since various operations are not labor-intensive
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Parts that are in direct contact with products are made from food-grade stainless steel in compliance with the CGMP specifications
  • Modular designs for easy assembly
  • Easy to achieve large-scale continuous production
  • Easy to control temperature and other process variables
Continuous Drying Process
Continuous Drying Process

Disadvantages of Fluidized Bed Dryer

Although FBD offers many benefits during material processing in pharmaceutical industries, there are certain limitations. For example:

· Electrostatic Charge Build-up

The fluidization process subjects particles in constant random motion in the drying space. During this movement, there could be a possibility of electrostatic charges build up especially when drying organic powders.

· Not Suitable for Sticky Products

The fluidization principle depends on materials moving freely within the drying chamber. Therefore, sticky products will not move freely for optimal drying since particles will not separate easily.

· Dust Emissions & Possible Product Attrition

Under unique circumstances, you can experience dust emission. However, this varies depending on the machine design.

Again, there is a possibility of product attrition. This may compromise the quality of the final product. Usually, the possibility of product attrition is low since fluid bed drying is a gentle process.

Other disadvantages of fluid bed dryers are:

  • Processing very fine particles may result in product loss
  • Particle flow due to the fluidization process is unpredictable
  • Scaling up can be a challenge due to the complex designs of certain machines

Fluid bed dryers offer unique benefits and limitations during material drying in pharmaceutical industries. Therefore, before choosing FBD, you must understand the properties of the materials you wish to process.

As a trusted fluid bed dryer manufacturer in China, SaintyCo offers a range of drying machines. Depending on your specific drying needs, we can customize your FBD based on your URS – contact us now.

More Resources:

What is Fluid Bed Dryer – Source: SaintyCo

Fluidized Bed – Source: Science Direct

FBD Guide – Source: SaintyCO

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