Part of the book: Mass Transfer
The use of supercritical CO2 is an excellent alternative in extraction, particle precipitation, impregnation and reaction processes due to its special properties. Solubility of the compound in supercritical CO2 drives the precipitation process in different ways. In supercritical antisolvent process, mass and heat transfers, phase equilibria, nucleation, and growth of the compound to be precipitated are the main phenomena that should be taken into account. Mass transfer conditions the morphology and particle size of the final product. This transfer could be tuned altering operating conditions. Heat transfer in non-isothermal process influences on mixing step the size of generated microparticles. In rapid expansion of supercritical solution, phenomena as the phase change from supercritical to a CO2 gas flow, rapid mass transfer and crystallization of the compound, and expansion jet define the morphology and size of the final product. These phenomena a priori could be modulated tuning a large number of operating parameters through the experiments, but the correlations and modeling of these processes are necessary to clarify the relative importance of each one. Moreover, particle agglomeration in the expansion jet and CO2 condensation are determinant phenomena which should be avoided in order to conserve fine particles in the final product.
Part of the book: Heat and Mass Transfer
Polymers are widely used in everyday life due to their properties as toughness, viscoelasticity, and the possibility to form glasses and semicrystalline structures. For that reason, it is used in mostly drug delivery systems and tissue engineering and in pharmaceutical and biomedical investigations. Foaming process allows creating porous structure into the polymer leading to scaffolds. Scaffolds are the focus of many investigations as prolonged drug delivery systems and implants or injections which are used to deliver cells, drugs, and genes into the body. Particulate leaching, freeze-drying, thermally induced phase separation, rapid prototyping, powder compaction, sol–gel, and melt molding are the main techniques in front of supercritical fluid technology to prepare scaffolds. Supercritical foaming process using CO2 presents advantages as a high dissolution in polymers and a green process because CO2 is nontoxic, inexpensive, and reusable. Moreover, supercritical technology allows to do an impregnation with an active substance together with the foaming at the same time. Thus active substances entrapped into scaffolds could be fabricated in a one-step green process.
Part of the book: Advanced Supercritical Fluids Technologies