Ultrasonic energy in liposome production: process modelling and size calculation
The use of liposomes in several fields of biotechnology, as well as in pharmaceutical and food sciences is continuously increasing. Liposomes can be used as carriers for drugs and other active molecules. Among other characteristics, one of the main features relevant to their target applications is the liposome size. The size of liposomes, which is determined during the production process, decreases due to the addition of energy. The energy is used to break the lipid bilayer into smaller pieces, then these pieces close themselves in spherical structures. In this work, the mechanisms of rupture of the lipid bilayer and the formation of spheres were modelled, accounting for how the energy, supplied by ultrasonic radiation, is stored within the layers, as the elastic energy due to the curvature and as the tension energy due to the edge, and to account for the kinetics of the bending phenomenon. An algorithm to solve the model equations was designed and the relative calculation code was written. A dedicated preparation protocol, which involves active periods during which the energy is supplied and passive periods during which the energy supply is set to zero, was defined and applied. The model predictions compare well with the experimental results, by using the energy supply rate and the time constant as fitting parameters. Working with liposomes of different sizes as the starting point of the experiments, the key parameter is the ratio between the energy supply rate and the initial surface area.