Homogenization Process

Any homogenization process involves the formation of liquid suspensions with fluids that have low miscibility rates, meaning they don’t like to be together in a solution. In order to form a suspension with these types of liquids, the droplet size of an oil, or discontinuous phase, needs to be significantly minimized. Many times, chemistry by way of surfactants is required to hold the suspension together after the smaller droplets have been formed. Think of the surfactant as the glue that helps hold everything together.

The homogenization process requires machines or equipment that shear the fluids at very high levels. High-Pressure Homogenizers are an excellent example as they subject a premix solution of difficult fluids to high pressure and fluid velocity change to break down droplet sizes without the use of mechanical shear. Other homogenization approaches involve mechanical shear by way of rotating components that force the fluid through a restrictive screen, thereby reducing product droplet size. Such devices tend to be less efficient and typically stop short of generating sub-micron size particles.

In any case, homogenization will require intense mixing energy and this energy will be proportional to the final droplet size required in your process. To achieve sub-micron droplet sizes we see high pressure and cavitation used frequently.

homogenizer orifice accelerating fluid

Block Homogenizer
Rotor Stator Mixer

Alternative homogenizer methods

Many homogenizer equipment manufacturers use a high-pressure pump that is built into a cumbersome casing with motor and belted connection. Attached to the outside of this clunky shell is a spring-loaded variable mixing valve that functions like a relief valve, generating back-pressure.  This spring-loaded valve mixing concept allows for some variability, as the spring continuously opens and closes, albeit unnoticeable to the naked eye. This variability leads to variable results which requires higher and higher pressures to make emulsions.  

Other designs tend to be of the rotor-stator high shear type that rely on mechanical shear to homogenize and given the fact that you can only turn something so fast, there are limits to its effectiveness. These types are also difficult to scale up because you quickly see that RPM and horsepower start to become your enemy as the amount of material you need to process increases.

Optimal Shear

The Sonolator homogenizes by using a fixed orifice specially engineered to optimize shear along it’s very sharp edges.  There is less variability this way.  Added to this is a fixed blade that subjects the high velocity fluid to extreme cavitation, further obliterating droplets and agglomerates!  By not having a spring-loaded mixing element and by not using mechanical shear or moving parts, scalability becomes a non issue and quality results can be achieved at lower pressures and lower energy costs.  To make homogenizing our way even more attractive is the fact that we do not disguise the PD pump element in some obtrusive case.  Instead, we use any of a variety of PD pumps to match fluid viscosity or hygiene needs. 

The Sonic Sonolator homogenizer achieves outstanding homogenization of fluids and de-agglomeration of solids through:

  • Extreme Inline Cavitation
  • Fluid Acceleration
  • Inline Turbulent Flow
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The Sonolator does not require mechanical shear and uses no moving parts to achieve excellent results.
No moving parts means better scalability from pilot to production floor.

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Multi-feed Homogenizing

As a final innovation, the Sonolator homogenizer is adaptable to high-pressure multiple-feed homogenizing, where several process streams can be accurately metered at ratio to combine in our mixing chamber to make emulsions instantly.  This means a reduction in tank usage as water and bulk materials can be metered from their sources rather than be tanked in a premix vessel.  It also means hot and cold streams can be metered simultaneously, thereby significantly reducing post emulsion cooling time!

Sonolator Homogenizer
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