The prevalence of high-potency APIs has led to an increasing need for containment. Ingredients can be dangerous to both the environment and personnel if mishandled – this is a particular concern during milling, a process notorious for dust generation. The challenge is achieving the required containment without excessively restricting throughput.
Integrating vacuum transfer with milling enables a dust-tight method for material to be automatically fed into the mill inlet, and automatically drawn from the outlet. Rather than rely on gravity, in-line vacuum transfer pulls material through the mill, keeping product cool and dramatically increasing feed-rate. Manipulating the transfer process in this way also ensures material can be easily transferred to a downstream process, eliminating unnecessary storage and transportation.
Container-to-container milling uses gravity to feed product from the top container, through the mill, and into the bottom receiving container (which must be fitted with vent-filter). This keeps the process in-line and protects the operator from exposure to the product. This process is optimal and compact, whilst the ease of bin changeover (either feeding drum or receiving drum) can offer throughput advantages compared with existing process methods.
Finally, milling inside an isolator or ‘glove-box’ is great for containing fine dust particles during processing, with typical operator exposure levels of < 0.1 µg/m3. In some respects, an isolator may represent an obstacle to increased throughput. However, by minimising the need for operator PPE or impractical containment, the purpose-built nature of the isolator provides a safe and ergonomic method for milling.
Achieving contained milling can represent a significant challenge, but approached correctly, can offer benefits to the operator, the environment and to the process itself. Hanningfield specialise in a wide range of powder handling and processing equipment, including cone mills, vacuum transfer systems and lift systems.
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