Using small-angle X-ray scattering to investigate the compaction behaviour of a granulated clay

Peter R. Laity, Kofi Asare-Addo, Francis Sweeney, Enes Šupuk, Barbara R. Conway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The compaction behaviour of a commercial granulated clay (magnesium aluminium smectite, gMgSm) was investigated using macroscopic pressure-density measurements, X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray microtomography (XμT) and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). This material was studied as a potential compaction excipient for pharmaceutical tabletting, but also as a model system demonstrating the capabilities of SAXS for investigating compaction in other situations.Bulk compaction measurements showed that the gMgSm was more difficult to compact than polymeric pharmaceutical excipients such as spheronised microcrystalline cellulose (sMCC), corresponding to harder granules. Moreover, in spite of using lubrication (magnesium stearate) on the tooling surfaces, rather high ejection forces were observed, which may cause problems during commercial tabletting, requiring further amelioration. Although the compacted gMgSm specimens were more porous, however, they still exhibited acceptable cohesive strengths, comparable to sMCC. Hence, there may be scope for using granular clay as one component of a tabletting formulation.Following principles established in previous work, SAXS revealed information concerning the intragranular structure of the gMgSm and its response to compaction. The results showed that little compression of the intragranular morphology occurred below a relative density of 0. ·. 6, suggesting that granule rearrangements or fragmentation were the dominant mechanisms during this stage. By contrast, granule deformation became considerably more important at higher relative density, which also coincided with a significant increase in the cohesive strength of compacted specimens.Spatially-resolved SAXS data was also used to investigate local variations in compaction behaviour within specimens of different shape. The results revealed the expected patterns of density variations within flat-faced cylindrical specimens. Significant variations in density, the magnitude of compressive strain and principal strain direction were also revealed in the vicinity of a debossed feature (a diametral notch) and within bi-convex specimens. The variations in compaction around the debossed notch, with a small region of high density below and low density along the flanks, appeared to be responsible for extensive cracking, which could also cause problems in commercial tabletting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-164
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Clay Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


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