Homogenizers 101: Types & ApplicationsLeave a Comment
Homogenization is a useful technique for a wide variety of applications, including emulsification, particle size reduction, and more. This process can be performed using numerous types of homogenizer technologies, so it’s important to understand the various options to ensure you select the best homogenizer for your needs.
What Is a Homogenizer?
A homogenizer is a type of mixer used to produce even, uniform mixtures by pushing the material through a narrow, confined space. This technology relies on various forces, including cavitation, turbulence, and high pressure to ensure even distribution with each mixture.
Homogenizers work by using a combination of a homogenizing valve assembly and a positive displacement pump. Under high pressure, the pump pushes the material through a small gap between the valve and valve seat. The movement through the valve and the force of the pressure facilitates turbulence and mixing.
Types of Homogenizers
Depending on the specific type of mixture and application, multiple homogenizers are available, including:
Piston homogenizers use a homogenization valve, a high-pressure pump, and three or more pistons or plungers. They work well with viscous fluids and provide consistent efficiency when experiencing flow and pressure variations. The more plungers or pistons the reciprocating pump contains, the more stable the delivery of fluid will be.
Rotor Stator Homogenizer
Rotor stator homogenizers are used to process various types of samples at high speeds. They work by accelerating the fluid tangentially. However, due to fluid inertia, it won’t completely flow with the rotor. Instead, it causes the fluid to move to the space between the stator and the rotor tip, or toward the shear gap. High shear rates then result from the turbulent fluid flow and high-velocity differentials.
Ultrasonic homogenizers use a probe, or horn, that rapidly vibrates, transferring its ultrasonic energy to the mixture. The sonication process results in cavitation, which entails the development and breakdown of bubbles. In turn, this action produces shockwaves to homogenize the mixture.
A bead mill homogenizer uses beads to homogenize mixture samples. The sample is placed into a tube with the beads, which is then vigorously agitated. This causes the beads to rapidly collide with each other, homogenizing the sample.
Many types of homogenizers use high pressure as a homogenization process. This particular process entails homogenization by applying high pressure levels to liquid samples.
Paddle blenders, or stomachers, work differently from the previous types of equipment in that they don’t produce homogeneous mixtures. Instead, paddles squeeze the solid sample against a hard surface to extract the desired contents. This option is typically used for live cells, microbes, or bacteria that end up circulating in solution.
Mortar & Pestle
Before the advent of automated homogenization technology, many people used the mortar and pestle method for homogenizing mixtures. This method involves using a blunt object (pestle) to apply pressure to a mixture in a container (mortar), grinding the samples in the process.
Several applications rely hygienic homogenizers to create even mixtures. The following are some specific examples of potential applications for homogenizers:
Food & Beverage Processing
Various applications in the food and beverage processing industry may use a food homogenizer. For instance, milk production relies on homogenization to prevent the separation of the cream layer, yielding a more appealing and long-lasting product.
The use of pressure in homogenization as a substitute for heat also makes this process popular for food and beverage applications. The use of pressure ensures products retain their nutritional content while improving chemical stability. Food-grade homogenizers also provide more flexibility, as you can scale your operations cost-effectively to meet rising demands for your food products.
Pharmaceutical Drug Development & Manufacturing
Pharmaceutical researchers often require homogenizers for reducing particle sizes and mixing pharmaceutical products. The scalability of hygienic homogenizers makes them especially beneficial for pharmaceutical products that have passed clinical trials and are ready to move to the production phase.
Most sanitary homogenizers support compliance with 3-A and Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) standards. This equipment also provides a level of customizability that includes integrating sanitary components for applications requiring sanitary homogenization.
Get a Custom Homogenizer at Highland Equipment
Depending on your specific needs, you can choose from many types of homogenizer solutions for producing even, high-quality mixtures. Whether you need a homogenizer for small or large samples, the experts at Highland Equipment can help you find the right solution based on your specifications and budget. For help determining the right homogenizer for your needs, or to get started on your custom homogenizer solution, contact us or request a quote today.