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Michael Levis
Head Process Technologies, Principal Scientist Particle Technologies
Blog Nov 15, 2023

Maximizing product potential with spray drying

The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries constantly seek innovative methods to enhance product stability, solubility, bioavailability, and ease of use. Within this realm, CDMOs serve as invaluable partners in the development and production of high-quality drug products. Among the array of cutting-edge technologies that have transformed the CDMO industry, spray drying has emerged as a versatile and indispensable tool.

Spray drying: A quick overview

Before we dive into its myriad applications, let’s first understand the fundamentals of spray drying. This process entails the conversion of a liquid into fine droplets, followed by controlled drying of each single droplet to form a solid powder. The key steps involved include:

Atomization: Liquid is transformed into small droplets, which amplifies the surface area for efficient drying.

Drying: The droplets enter a hot gas flow in the drying chamber where they lose solvents rapidly, finally resulting in the formation of a solid product. Because of evaporation energy, the product stays relatively cool in this process.

Spray drying has many uses in the CDMO industry:

Isolating thermal-instable products

Is your product sensitive to high temperatures? Spray drying is a low-thermal-stress method that can be employed to isolate thermally unstable substances, such as some Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) or even biological substances. This method is especially advantageous for eliminating the need for costly freeze-drying processes, providing an easily dispensable product, and potentially removing problematic residual solvents.

Enhancing bioavailability and solubility

If you’re seeking to improve the bioavailability of your product or increase solubility for downstream processes, spray drying offers a compelling solution. It enables the isolation of APIs in their amorphous form, which can significantly boost solubility and bioavailability. Whether your goal is to isolate the API in a pure amorphous state or create amorphous solid dispersions to stabilize the compound, spray drying can provide the necessary flexibility.

Another possibility is to use spray drying to form complexes with e.g. cyclodextrins or impregnate mesoporous carriers like silica, ion exchange materials or functional calcium carbonate.

Ensuring product stability

For products prone to decomposition, spray drying can be a game-changer. It allows for the combination of your product with stabilizers at a nearly molecular level. This innovative approach improves the overall stability of your API or formulation. You can encapsulate your product to enhance its stability and access improved product properties.

Creating solid forms for storage and dispensing

Some products may not naturally exist in solid forms, which is often essential for storage and dispensing. This is particularly relevant for biologics, substances that are challenging to crystallize, oils carried on particulate carriers, or molecular-level API mixtures. Spray drying provides a means to isolate these products in a solid state.

Tailoring powder properties

Spray drying doesn’t just convert liquids to solids; it also offers extensive control over particle design. By adjusting various spray drying parameters, you can influence bulk/tap density, flowability, and compressibility of an API. This level of control ensures that the powder properties align with your specific requirements.


In the CDMO industry, the versatile applications of spray drying have revolutionized the development and production of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology products. This technology offers solutions for thermal instability, bioavailability enhancement, product stability, solid-state formation, and tailoring powder properties. As the industry continues to evolve, spray drying will remain a vital tool for CDMOs, unlocking new possibilities in drug development and manufacturing.

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