This work is focused on the transport phenomena which take place during immersion in water of pure hydroxypropylmethylcellulose tablets. The water uptake, the swelling and the erosion during immersion were investigated in drug-free systems, as a preliminary task before to undertake the study of drug-loaded ones. The tablets, obtained by powder compression, were confined between glass slabs to allow water uptake only by lateral surface and then immersed in distilled water at 37 °C, with simultaneous video-recording. By image analysis the normalized light intensity profiles were obtained and taken as a measure of the water mass fraction. The time evolutions of the total tablet mass, of the water mass and of the erosion radius were measured, too. Thus a novel method to measure polymer and water masses during hydration was pointed out. Then, a model consisting in the transient mass balance, accounting for water diffusion, diffusivity change due to hydration, swelling and erosion, was found able to reproduce all experimental data. Even if the model was already used in literature, the novelty of our approach is to compare model predictions with a complete set of experimental data, confirming that the main phenomena were correctly identified and described.
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