At Sonic, after initial discussions, lab tests are the starting point for all custom designed mixing and blending systems.
This blog will explore the lab test basic design of experiment, mixing & blending custom design parameter definition and importance of an initial trial.
Design of Experiment
Typically the design of experiment in the Sonic lab revolves around the current product process and Sonolator homogenizer parameters or TechBlend blending parameters. For example, if you are making an emulsion with a hot oil phase we will mimic the current process and modify this process to take advantage of Sonolator homogenizer multiple feed efficiencies. For example, say your current process is to load the oil and other oil soluble ingredients into a tank and heat to temperature. Then, other ingredients are added and 100% of the batch is heated to temperature. Once at temperature the batch is stirred for a period of time until the emulsion is formed. When the emulsion is formed the batch is still at temperature, so it then needs to be cooled to be able to go off to its next destination (usually storage or filling line).
Often when a multiple feed Sonolator is used we can heat just the oil phase. Then, the hot oil stream is combined with the other streams water concentrate (containing all the water soluble ingredients) and straight water which are at ambient temperatures. These three ingredients, hot oil, ambient water concentrate and water are metered together using Coriolis style mass flow meters through the Sonolator homogenizer. The emulsion is formed in-line in a continuous or semi-continuous fashion.
Therefore, many of the original batch process key elements are duplicated, but the forming of the emulsion and temperatures are modified to fit the advantages of the Sonolator.
One of the key parameters for the Sonolator homogenizer is pressure. Therefore, homogenizer trials are usually run using various pressures. Typically 8 or 16 ounce samples or other sizes depending on customer preference and validation methods would be collected at each pressure. The Sonolator is operated from 100 to 5000 PSI, so samples can be created over a wide range of pressures. Typically, the higher the pressure the smaller the particle size or better the dispersion. Samples created would be sent to the customer for evaluation. We see our clients as experts in their processes, so Sonic provides samples and we let the experts tell us whether or not the equipment is well suited to their product.
When the customer makes the determination that the equipment is performing as desired for a given application, then Sonic need only help them calculate and justify ROI, product improvements and/or process improvements. Sonic likes to have the customer validating and confirming the efficacy of the system. Additionally, because we have handled the material in our lab Sonic has been able to ensure the application is right for the equipment. Experience with the material is extremely important when defining the best pump for a particular stream. With custom designed equipment Sonic is not locked into any particular pump or system component, but rather can and does select the best pump and components for each stream. Finally, there is seamless scalability with the Sonolator homogenizer. There is a known relationship between the pressure, flow rate and size of the orifice. After the best/lowest pressure has been defined in the lab trial, the customer states their desired flow rate and we solve for ‘x’ where ‘x’ is the size of the orifice that delivers the needed pressure at the desired flow rate.
For more information on the known relationship between the size of the orifice, pressure and flow rate or to discuss a lab test for your application please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.