AFD | Pharma Freeze Dryer

The Active Freeze Dryer (AFD) offers profound advantages over traditional tray freeze dryers. It is designed to produce free-flowing, sterile bulk pharmaceuticals in a one-pot process, with no operator intervention and no post-processing. The result is always a fine, loose powder, directly available from the product collector. The main benefits of this technology are efficiency, minimal handling and a consistent, high product quality.

Active Freeze Dryer Active Freeze Dryer

In the Active Freeze Dryer, the product is frozen while being agitated in a specially designed chamber. Whether the material to be dried is initially liquid, granular solid or a paste, the forced motion within the drying chamber ensures that it solidifies in the form of free flowing solid granules.

Working principle Active Freeze Dryer

Once the product is fully frozen, a deep vacuum is applied, and the sublimation starts. Heat applied to the vessel jacket is effectively distributed throughout the product due to the dynamic environment. The initially coarse, frozen granules gradually shrink as the ice structure connecting the frozen material sublimates, yielding a loose powder consisting of fine, dry particles.

Once the vacuum has been released, the chamber is opened, and the powdered product can be discharged.

Typical applications

Active Freeze Drying technology is suitable for sterile bulk pharmaceuticals, including:

  • Antibiotics
  • APIs
  • Collagens
  • Proteins


The Active Freeze Dryer (AFD) enables pharmaceuticals producers to fill a vessel with a suspension or solution and then freeze and dry the material, resulting in a free-flowing material, without operator interference. The powdery end product can simply be collected from the canister at the outlet of the dryer.

Excellent cleanability

Active Freeze Drying systems are very well suitable for Cleaning In Place or Sterilisation In Place. Furthermore, toxic materials can be processed without risk of contamination.

Superior quality

The Active Freeze Dryer can handle material consistencies ranging from solutions, suspensions to pastes and even wet solids. Thanks to the alternative and much faster method of freezing the material, the structure of the end product is different and, in most cases, will result in a structure with open pores with better (re)dispersibility and free-flowing properties. In addition, the particle size of the final product is in general very fine and uniform.


The Active Freeze Drying process is less labour intensive compared to the traditional tray-type process. Consequently, the handling is significantly shorter and simpler (no manual handling or post-processing steps), saving you time and money!

Tailor-made system

To take full advantage of this technology, we will help you develop and finetune your process in our extensive test facilities. After all, the parameters of the Active Freeze Drying process are different than what is known from tray freeze dryers. You know your product; and we know our AFD technology. Together we will make it work for your application.

The Active Freeze Dryer is available in several batch sizes. A few sizes with their typical characteristics are described below. Please note that these values are indicative only. Detailed information is available on request.

Max. net product
volume (liquid)
[l] 0.5 2.5 10 30 50 250 400 500 750
Jacket surface area [m²] 0.06 0.13 0.33 0.69 0.98 2.84 3.93 4.58 5.99
Max. sublimation capacity
at p=2 mbar
[kg/h] 0.1 0.3 0.8 1.7 2.2 7.2 9.9 11.4 13.7

Any Active Freeze Drying system consists of the following components:

  • Lyophilisation chamber
  • Canister and split valves
  • Vacuum dust filter
  • Vacuum pump skid
  • Heating and cooling system
  • CIP skid
  • SIP skid
  • Ancillary skid
  • Control system

How can we help you?

To learn more about our powder process equipment, contact us:

Related Applications

Hosokawa Micron designs and manufactures mixing, drying and agglomeration equipment and systems for the powder and bulk processing industry.

Active Ingredients (API)

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