Incorporating thermally labile active pharmaceutical ingredients for manufacturing multifunctional polymeric medical devices is restricted due to their tendency to degrade in the hot melt extrusion process. In this study, the potential of sub- and near-critical carbon dioxide (CO2) as a reversible plasticiser was explored by injecting it into a twin-screw hot melt extrusion process of Pellethane thermoplastic polyurethane to decrease its melt process temperature. Its morphological, throughput, thermal, rheological, and mechanical performances were also evaluated. The resultant extrudates were characterised using scanning electron microscopy, parallel plate rotational rheometer, differential scanning calorimetry, thermogravimetric analysis, and tensile testing. The process temperature decreased from 185 to 160 °C. The rheology indicated that the reduction in melt viscosity was from 690 Pa.s to 439 Pa.s (36%) and 414 Pa.s (40%) at 4.14 and 6.89 MPa, respectively. The tensile modulus in the elastomeric region is enhanced from 5.93 MPa, without CO2 to 7.71 MPa with CO2 at both 4.14 and 6.89 MPa. The results indicate that the employment of both sub- and near-critical CO2 as a processing aid is a viable addition to conventional hot melt extrusion and that they offer more opportunities for thermosensitive drugs to be more stable in the molten stream of Pellethane thermoplastic polyurethane.
- hot melt extrusion process
- supercritical carbon dioxide