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Current Projects


Linking wet granulation and tabletting behaviour

The properties of pharmaceutical tablets are well known to be affected by the granulation process, but the mechanistic reasons for this are still unclear. In this project, we look at a simple pharmaceutical formulation of lactose and microcrystalline cellulose, and apply the unified compaction curve approach to quantitatively predict the tablet hardness as a function of liquid level, impeller speed etc and compaction pressure.

Team members: Thanh Nguyen, A/Prof David Morton, and A/Prof Karen Hapgood.

Granulation and Drying of Lignite and Lignite-derived Products

Brown coal is a heterogeneous material, often containing large quantities of water,  which is prone to spontaneous combustion and is therefore difficult to handle and transport. This project considers how drum granulation can be used to control the product particle size distribution before, during or after drying, and how coal-based granules can be produced for applications beyond power generation.

Team Members: Evone Tan, A/Prof Andrew Hoadley and A/Prof Karen Hapgood

DEM Modelling of Mineral Jigging

Jigging is a gravity separation method used to separate gold and coal. Although it is a common minerals processing operation, the physical mechanisms are not well understood and the design of jigs is still an art. In this CSIRO-Monash project, a one-way coupled DEM-CFD model is used to investigate the effect of jigging amplitude and frequency for several typical jigging profiles.

Team members: Stephen Viduka, Dr Yuqing Feng, Dr Phil Schwarz, and A/Prof Karen Hapgood. Funded by CSIRO OCE Scholarship.

Continuous Blending of Pharmaceutical Powders

Blending of a drug with an excipients powder is a common step in the manufacture of many pharmaceutical products, but the blending conditions are selected after a series of trials. In this project, we use iron oxode powder to simulate the fine drug and look at the mixing intensity and blending efficiency for several mixers under different conditions.

Team members: David Barling, A/Prof David Morton, and A/Prof Karen Hapgood.  Project is partly funding by GlaxoSmithKline Australia.


Breakthrough Technologies for Energy-Ef´Čücient Manufacture of Dairy Powders 

Australia dairy manufacturers produced over 400,000 MT of milk powders worth over $A1 billion, with spray dried dairy products accounting for over 50% of exports. Milk powder production is the most energy intensive dairy manufacturing process, with the Australian manufacturers under increasing pressure to improve efficiencies and to reduce the cost of bulk powder manufacturing. This project will address how the industry can achieve tremendous gain in energy saving while reducing environmental costs through a combination of lower temperature spray drying and more efficient evaporation processes in generating high quality powders from high solids liquids.

Team members: A/Prof. Cordelia Selomulya, Prof. Xiao Dong Chen (Xiamen University), Dr. Wenjie Liu, Dr. Winston Duo Wu, Jiahan Chew, Krystel Li, Martin Foerster, Funded by ARC Linkage Project 2010 - 2013 and Dairy Innovation Australia Ltd.


Scalable fabrication of novel mesoporous carbonaceous spheres with uniform size as effective adsorbents in water treatment

Mesoporous carbonaceous particles can be used as highly effective adsorbents to remove microcystin toxins from algae blooms affecting freshwater wetlands. Uniform spherical particles are desirable to provide large surface area with accessible pore volumes. Current synthesis methods generate too low product yield for practical use. An innovative spray drying technology will be used to generate uniform sized particles with ordered mesoporous structures, and is a scalable route for complex particle formation with easy product recovery. Successful outcomes will significantly transform the manufacturing of highly efficient adsorbents of novel mesoporous carbonaceous materials for bio-adsorption of microcystin toxins in water treatment.

Team members: A/Prof. Cordelia Selomulya, Prof. Dongyuan Zhao (Fudan University), Prof. Xiao Dong Chen (Xiamen University), Dr. Zhangxiong (William) Wu, Paurnami Chandran, Funded by ARC Discovery Project 2012 - 2014.


Biodegradable immuno-therapeutic nanoparticles

Nanoparticles of a very specific size target dendritic cells (the sentinels of the immune system). This breakthrough will be used to design superior vaccine carriers for protection against a range of diseases such as influenza, other viral infections, & malaria. This dogma-challenging discovery of an immunological 'hot spot' opens the door for a multi-disciplinary collaboration for a nanoparticle vaccine platform technology to assist in the prevention of a host of diseases. Biodegradable particles for the binding of proteins from diverse target pathogens are synthesised via novel technologies. There is a huge demand for this type of particle as they are not commercially available.

Team members: Prof. Magdalena Plebanski, A/Prof. Cordelia Selomulya, Dr. Sue Xiang, Fatin Nawwab Al-Deen, Peter Tsirikis, Liam Powles, Funded by ARC Discovery Project 2009 - 2011.


Fabrication of uniform microparticles for controlled drug release via microfluidic spray drying

Microparticles with homogeneous properties are crucial for pharmaceutical applications where prior knowledge of exact drug loading and release behaviour is essential to achieve targeted therapeutic goals. Various methods such as membrane microemulsion or templating to assemble uniform particles often involve multiple steps, including post-processing for purification and recovery, while additional chemical reactivity is often required to form solid particles, rendering less flexibility in the procedure. Spray drying is a common method to produce pharmaceutical particles, although control over the particle properties poses a challenge. We use a specially designed dryer utilising a micro-fluidic-aerosol-nozzle to atomize monodisperse droplets from a range of precursors, to generate uniform microparticles for controlled release applications. The versatility of the device enabled microparticles with easily tunable drug release kinetics to be assembled by adjusting the drying conditions or the composition of the precursors. Significant adjustment of release profiles could be realized by manipulating microstructures of particles. Due to the homogeneity of the particles, a direct correlation between microstructural properties and release mechanisms could be obtained, the knowledge of which is crucial for the design of spray-dried polymeric-based pharmaceutical particles. 

Team members: A/Prof. Cordelia Selomulya, Prof. Xiao Dong Chen (Xiamen University), Wenjie Liu, Dr. Winston Duo Wu, Azila Juma'at


Scalable self-assembly of uniform microparticles with highly ordered mesoporous structures

Conventionally, synthesis of mesoporous nanoparticles often involves “wet chemistry” routes with various iterations such as molecular assembly, sol-gel, template-assisted synthesis, and self-assembly. While these methods offer a certain level of control over particle formation, the drawbacks include low yields, complex steps, and generation of chemical wastes. Alternative synthesis methods such as aerosol-assisted self-assembly could be used to produce ordered mesoporous particles, however, nano-sized particles are not always practical for large scale processes due to the difficulty in handling these particles. A microfluidic spray drying technique developed at Monash University could effectively produce homogeneous microparticles by employing specially designed monodisperse droplet generator and low velocity dryer. A combination of template-assisted route with microfluidic spray drying will be used to generate uniform microparticles with highly ordered mesoporous structures.

Team members: A/Prof. Cordelia Selomulya, Prof. Xiao Dong Chen (Xiamen University), Kathryn Waldron, Dr. Winston Duo Wu, Dr. Zhangxiong (William) Wu, Biao Kong


On particle formation from drying of emulsion droplets and crystallisation: applications for functional foods

Spray drying is a primary method to manufacture food powders today. Before subjecting a new formulation to this process, information about drying kinetics and shrinkage parameters can be obtained via single-droplet drying experiments. This work deals with the formation of particles from emulsion droplets (containing DHA oil) with different shell materials (e.g. protein-based and starch-based). Specifically the understanding of mechanism(s) of shell formation upon drying is crucial to design suitable microencapsulates for functional food applications, as well as to optimize the product properties. Another emerging interest is in controlling the crystallisation of taurine, an amino acid that is useful for health and wellbeing. Taurine crystals produced by conventional crystallisation processes are usually in the form of needle-shaped large crystals with poor flowability. Spray drying is an attractive option to produce largely spherical shaped particles with good flowability and solubility, via a rapid and waste-free process.

Team members: A/Prof. Cordelia Selomulya, Prof. Xiao Dong Chen (Xiamen University), Wendy (Wang) Yang, Ruohui Lin (funded by Guangzhou Ling Nan Intel Entreprise Ltd.).