Application of through-vial impedance spectroscopy as a novel process analytical technology for freeze drying
This study aims to validate and develop applications for a novel impedance-based process analytical technology for monitoring the attributes of the product during the entire freeze-drying process (from pre-freezing and annealing to primary and then secondary drying). This measurement approach involves the application of foil electrodes, mounted externally to a conventional glass freeze-drying vial, and coupled to a high-impedance analyser. The location of the electrodes on the outside, rather than the inside of the vial, leads to a description of the technology as a through-vial impedance spectroscopy (TV-IS) technique. The principle observation from this approach is the interfacial-polarization process arising from the composite impedance of the glass wall and product interface. For a conventional glass vial (of wall thickness ~ 1 mm and cross sectional diameter ~ 22 mm) it was shown that the process is manifest within the frequency range 101 to 106 Hz, as a single, broad band peak which spans 2-3 decades of the imaginary part spectrum. Features of the interfacial-relaxation process, characterised by the peak amplitude, C″Peak, and peak frequency, fpeak, of the imaginary capacitance spectra and the equivalent circuit elements that model the impedance spectra (i.e. the solution resistance (R) and solution capacitance (C) were monitored along with the product temperature data during the cycle(s), for a variety of surrogate formulations comprising lactose, sucrose, mannitol or maltodextrin solutions, during the freezing, re-heating, annealing and primary drying stages of freeze drying. It was shown that the parameters, fpeak and R, are strongly coupled to each other and change as a function of the temperature of the solution and its phase state, whereas C″Peak is strongly coupled to the amount of ice that remains during the drying process. Both log fpeak and log R have a linear dependence on the temperature of the solution, provided there was no phase change in the solution. The crystallization process (ice onset, solidification and equilibration to shelf temperature) is characterized well by both log fpeak and log R, whereas the parameter R demonstrates most clearly the formation of eutectic crystallization during freezing. In contrast it was the parameter C which was most sensitive to the detection of the glass transition during re-heating. During primary drying, it was shown that C″peak, is dependent on the amount of ice remaining and therefore provides a convenient assessment of the rate of drying and primary drying end point. The impedance changes during annealing provide a mechanistic basis for the modifications in ice structure which result directly in the observed decrease in primary drying times. The principal observation on annealing of a 10% w/v solution of maltodextrin, was the minimal changes in the glass transition (recorded at ~−16 °C) during the re-heating and cooling step (post-annealing). This result alone appears to indicate that a maximum freeze concentration was achieved during first freezing with no further ice being formed on annealing. The phenomenon of devitrification (and the production of more ice, and hence larger ice crystals) was therefore discounted as the mechanism by which annealing impacts the drying time. Having excluded devitrification from the mechanism of annealing enhanced drying, it was then possible to conclude that the decrease in the electrical resistance (that was observed during the annealing hold time) must necessarily result from the simplified structure of the unfrozen fraction and the improved connectivity of ice crystals that may be the consequence of Ostwald ripening. The application of through vial impedance measurement approach provides a non-invasive, real time monitoring of critical process parameters which subsequently leads to an improved understanding of the mechanisms and effects of different parameters, providing a reliable basis for process optimization, along with improved risk management to ensure optimum quality of the formulation and optimization of the freeze drying process.
- PhD