Large Scale Nanomaterial Production Using Microfluidizer High Shear Processing
Kenneth. J. Chomistek and Thomai Panagiotou, Ph.D.
Microfluidics Corporation, 30 Ossipee Rd., Newton, MA 02464, USA
Microfluidics has developed scalable and low cost award winning technologies, capable of producing nanomaterials with desirable properties for a wide variety of applications. The industries served are pharmaceuticals and biotech, energy, specialty chemicals, cosmetics and nutraceuticals. Microfluidics approach is based on an in-depth understanding of applications, unique design of high shear fluid processors, and development of processes tailored for each individual application.
The understanding of the requirements and ecosystem of specific applications includes the desired end properties of the material, the production environment requirements, time and cost restrictions. Pharmaceutical and biotech applications include the development and the production of FDA approved nanotechnology drugs such as vaccines, cancer drugs, anesthetics, controlled delivery systems that include polymers drugs and proteins, etc. Chemical applications include inkjet inks, fuel cell and battery electrodes, and carbon nanotube dispersion. Cosmetics include nanoencapsulation of oxygen carriers and nutrients, and collagen processing. Nutraceuticals include nanoencapsulation of fish oil for protection of omega-3 fatty acids and odor control, nanoemulsions that contain plant sterols and vitamins.
Two main methods are used for production of nanomaterials: (a) the “top down”, particle size reduction method, and (b) the “bottom up”, Microfluidics reaction Technology (MRT) for production of nanoparticles through chemical reactions and physical processes, such as crystallization. This technology received the Nano50 Award in 2007. Both technologies are continuous and can be used in line with upstream or downstream processes such as premixing, filtration, etc., and are consistent with process intensification principals.
The heart of the technology is the interaction chamber which consists of “fixed geometry” microchannels. Flow through the chamber is characterized by high fluid velocities (up to 500 m/s) and subsequent impingement of fluid jets to the chamber walls or to one another. The unique “fixed geometry” feature combined with the high shear rates ensure that varied formulations (emulsions, liposomes and dispersions) achieve the smallest particle size and the narrowest particle size distribution when compared to other particle reduction techniques.
The technology is fully scalable and has been used extensively from lab scale to production of market drugs, nutraceuticals and inks, among others. Microfluidizer® processors offer a variety of options, such as steam sterility, cleanability and data acquisition capabilities, so they are cGMP compliant, CE certified, ATEX and explosion proof, and therefore are suitable for a variety of manufacturing environments.