Transient aerodynamic atomization model to predict aerosol droplet size of pressurized metered dose inhalers (pMDI)

<p>Pressurized metered dose inhalers (pMDI) produce large numbers of droplets with smaller sizes than 5 μm to treat asthma and other pulmonary diseases. The mechanism responsible for droplet generation from bulk propellant liquid is poorly understood, mainly because the small length scales and short time scales make it difficult to characterize transient spray formation events. This article describes the development and findings of a numerical atomization model to predict droplet size of pharmaceutical propellants from first principles. In this model, the velocity difference between propellant vapor and liquid phase inside spray orifice leads to formation of wave-like instabilities on the liquid surface. Two variants of the aerodynamic atomization model are presented based on assumed liquid precursor geometry: (1) cylindrical jet-shaped liquid ligaments surrounded by vapor annulus; (2) annular liquid film with vapor flow in the core. The growth of instabilities on the liquid precursor surfaces and the size of the subsequently formed droplets are predicted by numerical solutions of dispersion equations. The droplet size predictions were compared with phase doppler anemometry (PDA) data and the predictions were in good agreement with the number mean diameter <i>D</i><sub>10</sub>, which is representative of the respirable droplets. The temporal behavior of droplet size production was captured consistently well during the period of the first 95% of the propellant mass emission. The outcome of our modeling activities also suggests that, in addition to saturated vapor pressure of the propellant, its viscosity and surface tension are also key properties that govern pMDI droplet size.</p> <p>© 2017 American Association for Aerosol Research</p>