Homogenizers and the Forces That Drive Them

Posted by Deb Shechter on Jun 25, 2018 11:30:00 AM

forceForce sounds like a very scientific term, but it basically consists of pushing, pulling and gravity. Pushes and pulls set things in motion, while gravity pulls down everything on earth. The six kinds of forces that act on objects when they come into contact with one another are: normal, applied, frictional, tension, spring and resisting.

In high-pressure homogenization, mechanical forces enhance the effectiveness of utilizing extremely high operating pressures. The combination of four main forces – cavitation, high shear, impact and turbulence – are used with high pressure to achieve particle size reduction, cell lysis and/or effective emulsification.

Cavitation

Cavitation occurs when a high amount of pressure is exerted on a liquid sample. Pressure enables the liquid to achieve high kinetic energy, thereby increasing velocity. Also sometimes described as the formation of liquid-free spaces within a liquid, cavitation is especially useful for particle reduction and can be intensified or reduced by adjusting the size of a high-pressure homogenizer’s nozzle.

Although homogenization can be accomplished without cavitation, it increases the efficiency of the process. In the food industry, cavitation in homogenization breaks up large fat globules to create a stable emulsion for increased shelf life and improve taste and texture.

High Shear

High-pressure homogenizers work through shear force, which can be created when a tangential force is applied to a sample. Homogenization using high shear allows for even further reduction of particle size by mixing two normally immiscible phases, such as with water-in-oil (w/o) or oil-in-water (o/w) emulsions.

Many high shear mixers are used to reduce particle size, but high-pressure homogenizers are able to attain even higher shear rates. This is especially important when a dispersion is required.

Impact

The force of impact works in homogenization to reduce the particle size of solids into liquids and achieve lysis of difficult-to-disrupt cells and other materials though the use of grinding beads. Dounce and Potter-Elvehjem homogenizers use only the force of impact to lyse cells, while the French press counterpart adds in high shear. The ability of high-pressure homogenizers to combine multiple forces offers manufacturers better yield in fewer passes and a lower time requirement. Along with other mechanical forces, impact can be fine-tuned to accommodate a specific sample.

Turbulence

In the overall homogenization process, turbulent premixing is the stage designed to prepare a sample by mechanically loosening bonds. By high-pressure machines like stirrers and agitators putting a sample through turbulent premixing, the homogenization process is easier and more time-efficient.

Another influence in homogenization is process intensity; higher intensity is used to obtain smaller particle sizes in fewer passes. Though not all homogenizers are equipped with adjustable process intensities, those from BEE International allow for increased or reduced process intensity with only the turn of a dial.

BEE International: The Driving Force Behind the Best High-Pressure Homogenizers

Unlike other technologies which apply one mechanical force to mix a product, BEE technology utilizes all available mechanical forces to achieve optimum results. We synergistically combine and fine-tune these forces to produce the best possible product for you and let you produce a tight distribution of small, uniform particles every time. Contact us to learn more!

For more information on key factors to consider when choosing a cell lysis method, download our FREE eBook:

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