Experimental Studies and Modeling of the Drying Kinetics of Multicomponent Polymer Films
The process of drying thin polymer films is an important operation that influences the film structure and solid state, and the stability of the product. The purpose of this work was to study and model the drying kinetics of multicomponent films based on two polymers: hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC, amorphous) and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA, semicrystalline). The isothermal drying kinetics of the films at different temperatures (40, 60, and 80°C) were studied using thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA) and convection oven methods. Solid-state characterization tools used in the study included polarization and hot-stage microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The drying kinetics of HPMC and PVA films in the TGA apparatus and convection oven were comparable. The three-parameter (Wmax, τ, n) Hill equation successfully modeled the experimental drying kinetics. The time factor τ in the Hill equation nicely explained two drying phases in the films. Solid-state phase changes occurring in the films during dehydration had a bearing on the drying kinetics and mechanisms. TGA can be used as a simple tool to determine the end points in drying processes using ovens or tunnels. The three-parameter Hill equation explained the drying kinetics and diffusion mechanisms of the solvent through the polymer films for the first time. This study advances our understanding of film drying, in particular for pharmaceutically relevant thin films.