Homogenizers are mixers that are capable of blending any material. Like the majority of blenders, they are mostly made of metal, including stainless steel. A homogenizer consists of a holding tank, a motor, and a set of high speed rotors or rotating impellers that are powerful enough to blend any kind of substance. All homogenizers are mixers, but not all mixers are homogenizers, as other mixers are suitable for working with more specific types of ingredients.
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During the homogenization process, a high shear mixer is immersed in the ingredients. The blades of the mixer rotate rapidly, creating a suction force that draws the liquid and solid portions of the mix toward the blades. The materials then move through the blades by way of centrifugal force, and they are finely milled and dispersed equally. These processes repeat themselves until all the materials are mixed and blended evenly. Once blended, the group of ingredients take on an entirely new appearance and level of viscosity. Technological advances have been made in the manufacturing of homogenizers, in an effort to improve the way that the mixers blend the material, but also how they can minimize the risk of infection, and prevent noise made by the machine and cross-contamination of the ingredients.
Types of Mechanical Homogenizers
Mechanical homogenizers are utilized for not only their efficiency, but for their ability to completely change the physical structure of a set of ingredients while maintaining its chemical composition. There are two ways to categorize mechanical homogenizers: rotor stator, and blade type.
- Rotor Stator
- The mixing apparatus consists of a rotor that is located within a stationary tube containing holes or slots, known as a stator. This mechanism moves rapidly, drawing the material toward it and forcing it through the set of holes at high speeds. The process is repeated until the material is fully mixed. Rotor stator homogenizers are capable of mixing volumes anywhere between 30 microliters and 30 liters. These types of homogenizers can be used in applications ranging from laboratory to industrial-scale applications. Rotors stator homogenizers are recommended for mixing liquids and soft tissue. It is important to remember that the particles of the desired substance need to fit through the holes of the stator in order to be effectively homogenized. Furthermore, there are some rotor stator homogenizers that require a generator probe to carry out their functions. A generator probe assists in the speed of the rotor stator, and there are different probes available depending on the substances that the homogenizer will mix. Not all models of rotor stator homogenizers come with a probe, so it is important to be mindful of which parts are needed for your model. Other variables to keep in mind include the design and size of the rotor stator, the speed of the rotor tip, the initial size and viscosity of the mixture, the processing time (also knowns as the flow rate), the volume and concentration of the mixture, the shape of the mixing vessel, and the orientation of the rotor stator. In the homogenization process, complications with aerosols and foaming could occur, but can be alleviated by keeping the rotor stator properly submerged.
- Blade Type Homogenizers
- Utilize a set of blades that can rotate up to speeds of 50,000 rpm. The blades thoroughly mix the ingredients by cutting through them within the homogenizer. Blade type homogenizers are highly useful in their ability to process ingredients of varying types. They are suitable for processing capacities ranging from multi-gallon to .01 ml. They are commonly used for homogenizing plant and animal tissue. There are some models that are capable of reducing the particulate size of a tissue sample to as small as 4 micrometers. Accessories that are available for blade type homogenizers include cooling jackets and closed containers for the respective purposes of temperature control and formation of aerosol. However, there are a couple of drawbacks. Blade homogenizers are not as efficient, as they are less capable of reducing the particle size to the same degree as their rotor stator counterparts. Another term for a blade type homogenizer is a blender.
Blenders and Mixers
In most cases, the terms "blender" and "mixer" can be interchangeably used. However, blenders can sometimes be defined as a machine that features sharper blades and are capable of higher speeds than mixers. A mixer can achieve emulsification if it manages to thoroughly blend a combination of solids or liquids that are usually unable to mix, such as oil-based ingredients with water. Numerous industries, including industrial mixing, food packaging, and technology and science. A couple of examples of products that are made with homogenization include cream and milk.