An emulsifier is an industrial mixer that combines two substances that are immiscible, or cannot be easily blended, such as oil-based ingredients and water. Substances that are normally un-blendable under any other circumstances can be mixed together with the help of emulsifiers. In the emulsification process, pressure is applied to the liquid mixture, and it is forced through small filters. These filters help break apart the larger molecules of a substances, enabling the ingredients to be blended together more easily.
Emulsifiers are commonly and effectively used for applications for which a high level of shear is required. Shear, in the realm of manufacturing, is a directional term that refers to a force or stress that goes parallel to a material or object. Emulsifiers can provide fast hydraulic and mechanical shear, and are thus recommended for applications which require a high level of shear to blend its substances. There are some applications that require certain types of emulsifiers, while they are also available as stand-alone machines. It is important to consider the efficiency and the production cost of the emulsifier in determining which type is the best fit. Emulsifiers are made in a variety of types and can be found in numerous industries. Examples include adhesive, chemical, medicine, and food. The products that are manufactured using emulsifiers include polyurethane, silicone, petroleum products, adhesives, hair dye, detergents, toothpaste, shampoos, vitamins, creams, lotions, medical ointment, milk and other beverages, syrups, and food coloring.
It is possible for emulsifiers can be used as the sole method of blending substances. Alternatively, emulsifiers may be a part of a series of mixing methods. Emulsifiers are just one type of mixer. Other types of mixers include:
- Ribbon blenders – horizontal blenders that are comprised of two helical blades with one inside the other. This arrangement enables a ribbon blender to force the mixer’s contents both outward and inward to ensure that the ingredients thoroughly blend. Ribbon mixers are typically used at their full capacity, and they are suitable to mix both wet and dry ingredients.
- Paddle blenders – horizontal blenders that work with dry or powdered ingredients. These mixers consist of paddles coming out of a horizontal screw, and mix the ingredients radially and laterally.
- Vacuum blenders – these mixers can come in either a horizontal or vertical configuration, and blend their ingredients using a combination of vacuum pressure and low internal heat, and remove moisture from the mixture in the process.
- High shear mixers – mixers that utilize a technique known as counter-current mixing. During the process of counter-current mixing, both the mixing tools and the mixing pan revolve at high speeds in opposite directions. This movement generates a strong parallel force upon the ingredients, ensuring uniformity in the mixture.
- Agitators – industrial mixers that mix low-viscosity substances while powered by an impeller. Agitators are highly versatile mixers that come in a variety of sizes, from laboratory-sized to large industrial sizes that are capable of holding up to 10,000 gallons.
- Homogenizers – Mixers that consist of a set of powerful rotors or impellers. These mixers can achieve a high enough amount of force to mix any type of material.
Emulsifiers are commonly used in the food processing and medical industries, due to the involvement of emulsion solutions. The mixing of certain products—such as chewing gum—requires a level of physical energy in order to properly blend their ingredients. Other examples of emulsion products include shampoos, lotions, and mayonnaise. Proper mixing conditions serve as a catalyst for the formation of molecules to create the emulsion. Manufacturers of emulsifiers have been and continue to strive to develop more functional mixers with components that can be independently controlled by their operators. Furthermore, mixers that have a wider variety of tolerances are being researched and developed in order to keep turnaround time at a minimum.
In addition to research regarding the structure of mixers, researchers are examining numerous substances that can be combined, such as different starches and foods. Mixers with higher performance power thresholds are being developed, which will expand the variety of substances that they will be able to mix, such as beverages. Some flavors that are added to beverages are oil-based, and water and oil do not naturally mix. Therefore, a high power emulsifier is required to evenly distribute the flavor throughout the water-based beverage. High powered emulsifiers significantly reduced the time it takes to mix ingredients, thus maximizing the output rate of the product during the processing phase. Aside from the beverage industry, another industry in which high powered emulsifiers can be found is the cosmetic industry, which has experienced a growing customer base over the years.
Emulsifier - Admix, Inc.