Unwanted changes in powder flow behavior can unexpectedly occur when a product is exposed to certain conditions of temperature and humidity. This can happen during production, but also during transport or storage. The work reported here demonstrates the novel approach of using an amended powder rheology set-up for measuring and predicting such changes in powder flow behavior. The developed methodology makes it possible to vary in-situ the temperature and the relative humidity of the air to which the product is exposed, thereby mimicking realistic conditions of production or related unit operations. An air flow capable of fluidizing the powder particles is controlled at a specific constant temperature and its relative humidity can be altered while measuring the torque in the fluidized powder bed in real time. The fluidization is necessary for generating a homogeneous introduction of temperature and relative humidity. Results obtained using citric acid and commercial coffee whitener products have proven this methodology to provide both similar and in certain instances dissimilar results compared to the more established methodology such as measuring the vapour adsorption isotherms. These observations are explained. In this way, it can be predicted under which combinations of temperature and humidity a product does or does not become sticky. The main advantages of our approach are that the flow properties are directly assessed, the interpretation of the obtained data is more straightforward and that the measurement times are shortened substantially.
- Powder flow