Calculation of Bulk Density and Tapped Density of Powders

Bulk Density

The bulk density of a powder is the ratio of the mass of an untapped powder sample and its volume including the contribution of the interparticulate void volume.

Unit of bulk density

The bulk density is expressed in grams per mL (g/mL) although the international unit is kilograms per cubic meter (1 g/mL = 1000 kg/m3) because the measurements are made using cylinders. It may also be expressed in grams per cubic centimeter (g/cm3).

Procedure of Bulk Density Measurement

Pass a quantity of material sufficient to complete the test through a sieve with apertures greater than or equal to 1.0 mm, if necessary, to break up agglomerates that may have formed during storage; this must be done gently to avoid changing the nature of the material. Into a dry graduated 250-mL cylinder (readable to 2 mL) introduce, without compacting, approximately 100 g of test sample, M, weighed with 0.1% accuracy. Carefully level the powder without compacting, if necessary, and read the unsettled apparent volume (V0) to the nearest graduated unit. Calculate the bulk density in g/mL by the following formula:

Generally, replicate determinations are desirable for the determination of this property. If the powder density is too low or too high, such that the test sample has an untapped apparent volume of either more than 250 mL or less than 150 mL, it is not possible to use 100 g of powder sample. Therefore, a different amount of powder has to be selected as the test sample, such that its untapped apparent volume is 150–250 mL (apparent volume greater than or equal to 60% of the total volume of the cylinder); the weight of the test sample is specified in the expression of results. For test samples having an apparent volume between 50 mL and 100 mL, a 100-mL cylinder readable to 1 mL can be used; the volume of the cylinder is specified in the expression of results.

Tapped density

Tapped density is obtained by mechanically tapping a graduated measuring cylinder or vessel containing a powder sample. After observing the initial powder volume and weight (bulk density), the measuring cylinder or vessel is mechanically tapped, and volume or weight readings are taken until little further volume or weight change is observed.

Procedure of Tapped Density Measurement

Proceed as described above for the determination of the bulk volume (V0). Secure the cylinder in the holder. Carry out 10, 500, and 1250 taps on the same powder sample and read the corresponding volumes V10, V500, and V1250 to the nearest graduated unit. If the difference between V500 and V1250 is less than or equal to 2 mL, V1250 is the tapped volume. If the difference between V500 and V1250 exceeds 2 mL, repeat in increments such as 1250 taps, until the difference between succeeding measurements is less than or equal to 2 mL. Calculate the tapped density (g/mL) using the following formula:

Reference: USP 〈616〉


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