A homogenizer is a piece of mixing equipment that produces a consistent and uniform mixture. A homogenizer works by breaking down the mixing component materials and distributing them evenly throughout the solution. The mixing materials are either immiscible, have different sizes, or are in different phases.
Homogenization works by pumping the sample through a narrow opening. Strong shearing forces (including cavitation and turbulence) can act on the sample in addition to high pressure to produce a high-quality product. Although numerous other mixing machines exist, the homogenizer is preferable for several reasons. It can quickly scale up and employs multiple mechanical forces (as opposed to one, as in most mixing equipment)—this quality performance results in a uniform, stable, and consistent product.
Use Of the Homogenizer in The Food Industry
Using homogenizers in the food industry provides several advantages, both to the industry and to the consumers who receive the results.
Extended Shelf Life
Among other things, the process of reducing particle sizes necessitates the use of high-pressure homogenizers. This pressure on food products frequently results in more stable chemical structures. As a result, the end product is fresher and has a longer shelf life.
Food preservation is related to the benefit of extended shelf life that homogenization provides. While heat treatment is specifically designed to kill various types of harmful microorganisms and bacteria, it can also kill beneficial organisms, vitamins, and nutrients. On the other hand, high pressure is used to accomplish the same goal as its more destructive counterpart. As a result, the food is preserved and healthy.
Improved Food Quality
Food quality improves as a result of the homogenization process. Product particle size reduction results in a product with better taste, texture, appearance, and overall quality than its non-homogenized counterparts.
Homogenization In the Pharmaceutical Industry
In the pharmaceutical industry, high-pressure homogenization produces more stable products with better active material dispersion than conventional stirrers, colloid mills, and rotor-stator devices. It accomplishes this by reducing particle size and uniformity under high pressure and stress. As a result, the product is clinically effective and has a longer shelf life.
Particle Size Reduction
Given its ability to achieve uniform consistency and small particle size, homogenization is the most popular technique for particle size reduction. These properties can significantly benefit pharmaceutical products by increasing bioavailability and chemical stability, making tablet ingestion easier, and improving physical appearance.
These homogenizers break the premix components using mechanical work as the primary energy source. They work in the same way as a high-shear mixer. The material fluid or feed can be introduced at atmospheric, low, or medium pressure, which is significantly lower than the pressure of a high-pressure homogenizer.
Instead of a valve, rotating parts such as cones, blades, and paddles are used. To create the desired conditions for homogenization, the rotors are mated with a suitable stator. The mechanical tearing caused by the active components drives the homogenization process. Nonetheless, the previously mentioned physical principles required in particle disruption continue to apply to mechanical homogenizers.
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Popular Mechanical Homogenizers
These homogenizers are the nearest to high shear mixers in terms of construction. Their rotor-stator assembly is frequently referred to as a mixing head, probe, or generator. The assembly is dropped into a batching tank, tube, vessel, or container to homogenise the premix fluid.
Rotor-stator homogenizers work by tangentially accelerating the fluid, but it does not entirely flow with the rotor-stator due to fluid inertia. The fluid flows toward the shear gap, which is the area between the rotor tip and the rotor-stator. High shear rates are produced by the presence of high-velocity differentials and turbulent fluid flow within the shear gap.
The rotor and stator profiles, separation distance, and other characteristics such as slots and holes all contribute to particle size control.
A colloid mill is a type of homogenizer that consists of a conical rotor-stator. The rotor and stator are separated by a narrow clearance through which shear and centrifugal forces will cause the premix to flow. The premix is thrown outward towards the exit holes or slot as it is gravimetrically loaded into the rotor-stator assembly by a hopper.
The rotor’s high rotating speed (around 3,000-15,000 rpm) causes a significant amount of shearing, which breaks the premix fluid components. Furthermore, because the rotor accelerates the solvent, high fluid velocities are possible—turbulence forms when there is enough velocity.
By varying the clearance between the rotor-stator, the magnitude of shearing can be altered. However, decreasing the clearance will reduce the product’s flow rate. The resulting particle size is limited; it is not as refined as those produced by high-pressure homogenizers.
Bead Mill Homogenizers
Bead Mills (also known as ball mills) are homogenizers that use beads to mechanically grind and break large particles scattered in the premix fluid. The beads mills are grinding media that use high impact and shearing forces to reduce particle size.
The bead mills are inserted into the container and come into contact with the premix fluid. Internal rotating components such as blades and paddles then agitate them. Agitation can also be accomplished by spinning the container at high speed. Agitation with rotating parts is common in larger rotor-stator homogenizers that are parallel to the production stream. In laboratories, centrifugal agitation is commonly used to prepare to homogenize samples.
Blade Type Homogenizers
These homogenizers have blades as their rotor. They don’t have a shear gap formed by a stator, unlike rotor-stator homogenizers and bead mills. Only the high-speed rotation of the blade produces the shearing effect. Their operation and construction are very similar to that of a blender.
Homogenizers with blades are less efficient than those with rotors and stators. Their homogenizing power is adequate for producing a well-emulsified and dispersed mixture. The resulting particle size, however, is not as refined as that produced by the other various types of homogenizers. Abrasive media, such as beads, are used to increase their homogenizing efficiency.
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