Drying Kinetics and Particle Formation from Dilute Colloidal Suspensions in Aerosol Droplets

Justice Archer, Jim S. Walker, Florence K. A. Gregson, Daniel A. Hardy, Jonathan P. Reid*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
171 Downloads (Pure)


Industrial processes such as spray drying of pharmaceutical and food products often involve the drying of aerosol droplets containing colloidal suspensions into powdered microparticles of desired properties. The morphology and surface properties of the final dry products/microparticles obtained after the drying process are strongly influenced by the parameters of the initial aerosol droplet composition and the drying conditions. In particular, the final dry microparticle morphology can be dependent on the dimensionless Péclet number (Pe), which expresses the relative competition between the diffusion of the dispersed particles within the droplet and the rate of solvent loss via evaporation. In this work, we examine how control over the gas phase drying conditions and initial aerosol droplet composition can be used to influence the aerosol droplet drying kinetics in the gas phase for a range of Péclet numbers. We used a single-particle levitation instrument, the electrodynamic balance, to measure the drying kinetics of colloidal silica droplets (0.10–0.60% v/v) under controlled gas phase drying conditions of temperature (263–326 K) and relative humidity (0–90%) and obtained Péclet numbers ranging from 4.05 to 184.5. We demonstrate that, for aerosol droplets with initially dilute feed colloid concentrations and within the constant evaporation regime, the starting composition does not strongly influence the solvent evaporation rate with the included nanoparticles (NPs) acting as spectators. However, the gas phase drying conditions, temperature, and relative humidity, directly influence the droplet temperature via evaporative cooling as well as the droplet drying kinetics and the final dry microparticle properties. With a priori knowledge of the droplet drying kinetics from the single droplet measurements, we further demonstrate the possibility of tailoring the morphology of the dried microparticles. Dried silica microparticles collected at Pe = 23.8 had dense spherical morphologies, while those at the highest Pe = 180.0 had crumpled surface morphologies with a transition in morphology between these limiting Pe values. Our results extend the fundamental understanding of the mechanisms controlling the drying of aerosol droplets in colloidal suspensions across a wide range of application areas extending from spray drying to the drying of respiratory fluid droplets containing bacteria and viruses and the drying of atmospheric aerosol droplets.
Original languageEnglish
Article number42
Pages (from-to)12481-12493
Number of pages13
Early online date27 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Oct 2020


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