How vacuum tray dryers can enable efficiency gains

Published: 30-Oct-2023

Vacuum tray dryers are a mainstay in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Quality losses related to harsh temperature processing is unacceptable in drug pipelines. It can lead to increased costs and wasted resources, which is why vacuum-drying ovens are commonly used in pharmaceutical labs, pilot plants, and commercial-scale labs

Their operation is also relatively easy to understand. Temperature-sensitive materials are placed on trays on separate shelves in a vacuum chamber. The chamber then induces a low pressure regime. Boiling points drop inline with pressure. Thus drying temperatures can be thermostatically controlled to preserve product integrity. The benefits of this are myriad. But how do tray dryers contribute specifically to greater efficiency?

Vacuum Tray Dryers: The Mechanism and Merits

The vacuum chamber is the heart of a pharmaceutical tray dryer. Within it are direct heating shelves, typically made of stainless steel, which facilitate high heat conduction to the feedstock. Most tray dryers are equipped with rigid, hollow baffles to prevent feeds from escaping in-process and to maximise safety.

Heating plates and warming shelves play a pivotal role in the drying processes within a tray dryer. Often made of stainless steel, these components ensure temperature uniformity, a critical factor when dealing with heat-sensitive materials. The direct heat transfer from these components to the dry materials ensures that the drying temperatures remain consistent, preventing product degradation. Heat is supplied by a medium flowing through pipes within heater plates. The medium may be heated water, steam, or thermal oil.

As mentioned, the low-pressure environment within the chamber reduces the solvent’s boiling point, improving drying process efficiency.

Key Benefits

Reduced Drying Time

The vacuum conditions within the tray dryer expedite moisture removal at temperatures and pressures lower than conventional drying methods. This not only ensures faster drying but also enhances the efficiency of the process.

Energy Efficiency

The energy consumption in vacuum tray dryers is significantly lower, given the reduced temperature and pressure requirements. This translates to lower operating costs and a boost in thermal efficiency.

Augmented Production Efficiency

By curtailing drying time and energy consumption, vacuum tray dryers amplify production efficiency, increasing productivity and diminishing production costs.

Enhanced Moisture Removal with Inert Gas Purging

Utilising a blanketing or purging gas for moisture removal ensures a more thorough and efficient drying process. The inert nature of nitrogen minimises the risk of oxidation or degradation of sensitive materials during drying, while also facilitating the safe removal of moisture. This method not only enhances drying efficiency but also provides an additional layer of safety and quality assurance in the drying of pharmaceutical products.

Seamless Integration with Containment Solutions

Vacuum tray dryers can be effortlessly integrated with containment solutions, ensuring safe and secure handling of hazardous and potent compounds throughout the drying process. This integration provides an added layer of protection for operators and the environment by minimising exposure to potent compounds and ensuring containment of any potentially harmful substances. Moreover, it ensures that the integrity of sensitive or reactive materials is maintained by preventing contamination. This adaptability not only underscores the versatility of tray dryers in handling a wide range of materials but also reinforces their applicability in maintaining the highest safety and quality standards in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

In Summary

The role of tray dryers, especially the vacuum variant, in pharmaceutical manufacturing cannot be overstated. Their ability to offer efficiency gains and their reliability makes them an indispensable tool in the industry. It remains a workhorse of pharmaceutical workflows despite the advent of more advanced methods like spray drying and filter dryers.

Looking for High-Efficiency Drying Solutions?

Powder Systems understands the importance of high-efficiency drying that never compromises product quality. Their CakeStand™ tray dryer employs a completely sealed vacuum chamber combined with direct heating shelves, ensuring ideal drying conditions and consistent uniformity.

PSL tray dryers are versatile, functioning in downflow booths, cleanrooms, or alongside PSL containment isolators. Additionally, CakeStand™ boasts several design elements that enhance user-friendliness and product safeguarding.

Discover more about the CakeStand™ Vacuum Tray Dryer here.

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