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Agglomeration is getting smaller particles to adhere to each other to form bigger conglomerates/granules or agglomerates. Agglomeration is performed as a one step operation during the spray drying “straight through” process with fines return or in the Fluidized Spray Dryer FSD™ with or without fines return.
Agglomeration can also be performed in a two step operation as in the rewet agglomeration process. Or as a combination of the two in the MSD-GRANULATOR™.
Generally the process of any type of agglomeration involves:
Assuming that agglomeration during the one step spray drying process occurs as a series of binary interactions, the rate of agglomeration – Gij – of I and j type particles can be expressed by Hogg´s formula from 1992:
Gij = Kij Eij ni nj
There are many requirements for powdered products. Some of the most important ones and those that are controlled by agglomeration are that powders must be:
These properties can be met if the powder is present in agglomerated form.
During the spray drying process, the type of agglomeration is defined as
...and their combinations are described below:
|Spontaneous primary||Random, unprovoked collision of primary spray particles||All atomization devices|
|Forced primary||Intended collision between primary spray particles from different atomization devices||Collision of sprays from different nozzles|
|Spontaneous secondary||Random, unprovoked collision of primary spray particles and fines||Multi-Stage or Integrated Filter Dryers|
|Forced secondary||Intended collision between primary spray particles and fines returned to the atomizer zone||Normal type when Fines Return is applied|
After the agglomeration, the agglomerated powder usually needs to be re-dried and cooled. This is typically done in a VIBRO-FLUIDIZER™ and to avoid attrition and/or braking down the agglomerates, the perforated plate is selected carefully. It is recommended to convey the final agglomerated powder carefully in the subsequent powder handling system.
Many powdered materials, for example coffee powder, consist of single particles when they are discharged from the coffee spray dryer. Agglomeration by the REWET method produces an agglomerated instant coffee powder similar to that from a freeze dryer.
The REWET agglomeration process is divided into the following processing steps:
The two different agglomeration methods can be combined as in the MSD-GRANULATOR™, where a liquid can be sprayed onto the fluidized powder layer to enhance the agglomeration and non agglomerated powders can be added to the process via the fines return system.
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