Carrier particle emission and dispersion in transient CFD-DEM simulations of a capsule-based DPI

Benedict Benque, Johannes G. Khinast*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dispersion of carrier-based formulations in capsule-based dry powder inhalers depends on several factors, including the patient's inhalation profile and the motion of capsule within the device. In the present study, coupled computational fluid dynamics and discrete element method simulations of a polydisperse cohesive lactose carrier in an Aerolizer® inhaler were conducted at a constant flow rate of 100 L/min and considering an inhalation profile of asthmatic children between 5 and 17 years approximated from literature data. In relevant high-speed photography experiments, it was observed that the powder was distributed to both capsule ends before being ejected from the capsule. Several methods of ensuring similar behavior in the simulations were presented. Both the constant flow rate simulation and the profile simulations showed a high powder retention in the capsule (7.37–19.00%). Although the inhaler retention was negligible in the constant flow rate simulation due to consistently high air velocities in the device, it reached values of around 7% in most of the profile simulations. In all simulations, some of the carrier powder was ejected from the capsule as particle clusters. These clusters were larger in the profile simulation than in the constant flow rate simulation. Of the powder discharged from the capsule, a high percentage was bound in clusters in the profile simulation in the beginning and at the end of the inhalation profile while no more than 10% of the powder ejected from the capsule in the 100 L/min constant flow rate simulation were in clusters at any time. The powder emission from the capsule was studied, indicating a strong dependency of the powder mass flow from the capsule on the angular capsule position. When the capsule holes face the inhaler's air inlets, the air flow into the capsule restricts the powder discharge. The presented results provide a detailed view of some aspects of the powder flow and dispersion of a cohesive carrier in a capsule-based inhaler device. Furthermore, the importance of considering inhalation profiles in addition to conventional constant flow rate simulations was confirmed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106073
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Carrier particle
  • Cohesion
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Discrete element method
  • Dry powder inhaler
  • Inhalation profile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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