Powder compression mechanics of spray-dried lactose nanocomposites

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The aim of this study was to investigate the structural impact of the nanofiller incorporation on the powder compression mechanics of spray-dried lactose. The lactose was co-spray-dried with three different nanofillers, that is, cellulose nanocrystals, sodium montmorillonite and fumed silica, which led to lower micron-sized nanocomposite particles with varying structure and morphology. The powder compression mechanics of the nanocomposites and physical mixtures of the neat spray-dried components were evaluated by a rational evaluation method with compression analysis as a tool, using the Kawakita equation and the Shapiro–Konopicky–Heckel equation. Particle rearrangement dominated the initial compression profiles due to the small particle size of the materials. The strong contribution of particle rearrangement in the materials with fumed silica continued throughout the whole compression profile, which prohibited an in-depth material characterization. However, the lactose/cellulose nanocrystals and the lactose/sodium montmorillonite nanocomposites demonstrated high yield pressure compared with the physical mixtures indicating increased particle hardness upon composite formation. This increase has likely to do with a reinforcement of the nanocomposite particles by skeleton formation of the nanoparticles. In summary, the rational evaluation of mechanical properties done by applying powder compression analysis proved to be a valuable tool for mechanical evaluation for this type of spray-dried composite materials, unless they demonstrate particle rearrangement throughout the whole compression profile.

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