Purpose: to design, assemble and test a prototype of a novel production plant, suitable for producing microparticles (MPs) by processing highly viscous feed solutions (FSs). Methods: the prototype has been built using a commercial air compressor, a piston pump, an airless spray-gun,
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Purpose: to design, assemble and test a prototype of a novel production plant, suitable for producing microparticles (MPs) by processing highly viscous feed solutions (FSs). Methods: the prototype has been built using a commercial air compressor, a piston pump, an airless spray-gun, a customized air-treatment section, a timer, a rotating base, and a filtration section. Preliminary prototype parameter setting was carried out to individuate the best performing nozzle’s dimension, the nebulization timing, and the CaCl2
concentration in the gelation fluid. In addition, prototype throughput (1 L to 5 L) and the range of practicable feed solution (FS) viscosities were assayed. A set of four batches was prepared in order to characterize the MPs, in terms of mean particle size and distribution, flow properties, swelling, encapsulation efficiency and release. Results: according to a qualitative scoring, the large nozzle was suitable to nebulize FSs at a higher alginate concentration. Conversely, the small nozzle performed better in the processing of FSs with an alginate concentration up to 2% w/v. Only at the highest degree of viscosity, corresponding to 5% w/v of alginate, the FS processing was not technically possible. Among the CaCl2
concentrations considered, 15% w/v was recognized as the most versatile. The prototype appears to be convenient and suitable to grant a high yield starting from 2 L of FS. The flow behavior of the FSs assayed can be satisfactorily described with the Carreau-Yasuda equation and the throughput begins to slightly decrease for FSs at alginate concentrations exceeding 3% w/v. MP morphology was irregular with crumpled shape. The angle of repose indicates a good flowability and the release studies showed gastro-resistance and potential prolonged release applications. Conclusions: the novel prototype of production plant is suitable to process large amounts (2 L or more) of FSs, characterized by a high viscosity, to produce MPs suitable for bioactive principle delivery.