Elucidating the mechanism of paracetamol sonocrystallization for product purity enhancement

Clarissa Forbes, Thai T. H. Nguyen, Richard L. O'Leary, Chris J. Price

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We have previously demonstrated product purity enhancement during the crystallization of paracetamol in a low intensity ultrasound field. In order to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of sonocrystallization, the applied ultrasonic interventions were characterized by measurements of cavitation bubble number, size and size distribution with a Mettler FBRM probe. Ultrasonic intensity measurements were conducted using a needle hydrophone. The solvents selected for study; water, ethanol and isoamyl alcohol show significant differences in behavior. This data provides an insight into the relationship between solvent properties and cavitation bubble activity under the same applied ultrasonic energy. Substantially more cavitation bubbles form in the organic solvents compared with water, this is consistent with the lower surface tension and higher vapor pressure of the organic solvents. The difference in bubble size distributions between ethanol and isoamyl alcohol is significant. In ethanol most bubbles remain below 30μm whereas in isoamyl alcohol they tend towards 1mm in size. Detection, quantification and measurement of cavitation bubbles in crystallization solvents contributes further evidence that acoustic cavitation is a key component in sonocrystallization. The industrial driver is to incorporate this understanding into both pharmaceutical process and equipment design to improve the product quality, reduce waste and improve access to medicines.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberICU2017 - 287
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of Meetings on Acoustics
Early online date9 May 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 May 2018


  • paracetamol
  • paracetamol crystals
  • product purity


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