Continuous Blending Hand Sanitizer During a Pandemic

The ability to manufacture hand sanitizer quickly and efficiently is paramount in light of the recent pandemic and COVID-19 outbreak. Millions of people worldwide are using hand sanitizing products at record high levels and demand remains strong. Manufacturers of basic hand sanitizer gels and sprays will want to produce larger quantities while new players are entering the landscape every day.

The most common and simplistic approach is batch mixing. However, adding all your ingredients to a single, costly batch tank and agitating with any form of mechanical shear will NOT be the best way to make more product faster.

The instinct by many is to say, “Let’s throw it all in a tank and mix it, then pump it out to a hold tank.” But, I’m here to tell you, there is a better way….Continuous Inline Blending!

We all need cleaner hands right now!

Blending Hand Sanitizer: Batch Mixing vs Inline Blending

To make more product faster, it’s best to meter raw materials from bulk and establish ingredient ratios inline using mass flow meter technology. This can be accomplished by using a customized TechBlend Inline Blending System that draws raw materials from bulk or totes and meters them at proper ratio to a hold tank near the filling line. Using the illustration below, one of the system PD pumps and associated flow meters would meter ethanol from a storage container installed safely outside the building. By eliminating a batch tank inside the building, fire code issues are reduced, saving money. The next PD pump would meter a water-based premix using a small container of non-haz materials, like thickeners (carbopol) and other ingredients such as aloes, oils, fragrance, etc. The final pump would be used for plain water commonly used in non-gel based spray hand sanitizers.


Advantages of Continuous Inline Blending

The ultimate goal here is to allow manufacturers a way to make more product faster while optimizing existing resources! With traditional batch mixing, even using an inline mixer mounted in or under the tank, multiple material transfers are required to the tank, tank agitation or recirculation via inline mixer are required, and transfer out of the tank to a hold tank is required. These multiple steps are time consuming and costly. Worst of all is the transfer of ethanol, IPA, water or other bulk material to this tank and then again out of the tank as finished product. Additionally, to grow, more costly tanks consuming valuable floor space are required.

  • Eliminates large and costly batch tanks
  • Reduce Fire Code issues by reducing volume of alcohol inside the factory
  • Eliminates multiple transfer times
  • Reduces labor involvement
  • Reduces weigh and transfer errors
  • Reduces factory floor space required
  • Makes more product faster
Hand Sanitizer Blending Skid

What I’ve Learned So Far

The most striking take away for all of this is how much product can be made in such a small footprint. When we commissioned one of our blending skids recently, the footprint was all but about 6 ft x 6 ft for the skid and piping connections to the PD pumps. The customer was making a gel-based hand sanitizer that used 4 feeds including ethanol from outside bulk storage tank, water and carbopol premix made in 6 ft diameter poly tanks and 2 minor ingredient materials held in totes on a rack above the skid. The skid could process at 50 GPM so we were able to make 10 totes of finished product in an hour. The only limitation will be the carbopol premix which was resolved by having 2 tanks for switching. The net result is the ability to make 30% more product than the batch method without introducing large quantities of flammable fluid into the building. Additionally, the customer was impressed with the ratio control between ingredient feeds, which was far superior to the add any weight method required for any batch mixing operation.

You can learn more about this on our Hand Sanitizer application page.