Oil-in-Water and Water-in-Oil Emulsions: What's the Difference?

Posted by Deb Shechter on Apr 24, 2018 10:30:00 AM

oil in water and water in oil emulsionsYou’ve no doubt heard the phrase “Oil and water don’t mix.” It’s basically a way of saying certain items or people do not go well together. However, oil and water can mix with the right ingredients – specifically, emulsifiers. Emulsifiers prevent oil and water from separating by establishing a barrier that protects the droplets.

When oil and water are mixed powerfully, they form either oil-in-water (o/w) or water-in-oil (w/o) emulsions. In o/w emulsions, oil is dispersed in a continuous water phase, while in w/o emulsions, water droplets are dispersed in oil. The result of an emulsion of oil and water mix is depended on the volume fraction of both phases and the kind of emulsifier utilized. You can actually tell the difference between the two by measuring the electrical conductivity of the emulsion. If there is no conductivity, it’s an w/o emulsion.

Both o/w and w/o emulsions have unique applications and chemical properties, and you can better choose the type you want to use if you know more about these differences. In this blog, we’ll provide some characteristics of o/w and w/o emulsions and describe some of the differences between the two.

Oil-in-Water Emulsions

Used in moisturizing products and food products such as milk, mayonnaise and vinaigrette, o/w emulsions contain a low oil concentration. They are mixable with water, non-greasy, non-occlusive and will absorb water. The dispersion medium in these emulsions is water; o/w emulsifiers keep oil drops packed in water.

Water-in-Oil Emulsions

These emulsions are utilized in products including butter, margarine, cold cream and cod liver oil and are especially useful in products designed for dry or sensitive skin. Common w/o emulsifiers are sorbitan stearate, polyglyceryl oleate, lecithin, sorbitan monooleate and lanolin. Sometimes referred to as an inverse emulsion, w/o emulsions mix more easily with oils and have a high oil concentration. Producing w/o emulsions is more difficult than developing their o/w emulsions.

Following are three additional differences between o/w and w/o emulsions:

1. Suspended vs. continuous phase

The biggest difference between o/w and w/o emulsions is which phase is suspended and which is continuous. Oil and water are normally immiscible, but with proper mixing and stability agents, a permanent mixture, or emulsion, can be achieved. Smaller droplet sizes will enhance the effectiveness of either system; this may translate to increased bioavailability in pharmaceutical products or extended shelf life in food/beverage products.

2. Type of product that can be created

The chemical nature of an o/w emulsion is distinct from that of a w/o emulsion; each is most effectively used in different products. O/w emulsions are the basis of water-based products; in the pharmaceutical industry, they can be found in creams like moisturizers and topical steroid products. In contrast, w/o emulsions make up oil-based products like sunscreen and most makeup.

3. How to achieve stability 

Stability is key when considering an emulsion synthesis technique; without it, the two phases will separate, and the product will have lower function. All emulsions require an emulsifier to assist with stability. O/w emulsions typically require more than one emulsifier, and they can be acquired separately or in a pre-mixed cocktail. In contrast, while w/o emulsions only require one emulsifier, there is a limited number from which to select because the hydrophilic balance must be in a narrow range. 

Emulsions, emulsifiers, homogenization and other terms can be confusing, but at BEE International, we can steer you in the right direction based on your specific business needs. Simply contact us to learn more!

Check out our FREE animation on how our technology can be customized for your application for efficient and consistent results:

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Microemulsions as a Drug Delivery System

Posted by Tal Shechter on Mar 7, 2017 12:30:00 PM

drug-delivery.jpgHomogenization, also known as particle size reduction, is a technique that is gaining popularity in numerous industries, including pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food. In the pharmaceutical industry, where production of drugs, antibiotics, and other essential medications are paramount to the success of the industry, it is important to understand one important concept: microemulsions. To learn more about microemulsions – what they are, how they work, and how they are critical to the success of the pharmaceutical industry – continue reading.

Microemulsions are defined as clear, thermodynamically stable, liquid mixtures of oil, water, and a surfactant – a compound that lowers surface tension. While the aqueous phase of a microemulsion may contain salts or other ingredients, the oil phase is often a mixture of olefins and hydrocarbons. Microemulsions form upon mixing of the components, and do not require the high shear that is often necessary in the formulation of typical emulsions.

Microemulsions have a number of important uses, including (but not limited to) the following applications:

  • Water-in-oil microemulsions for dry cleaning processes
  • Floor polishers and cleaners
  • Personal care products such as creams and lotions
  • Pesticide formulations
  • Drugs

Microemulsions also have other applications, including the creation of polymers. During this process, the transport of free radicals, monomers, co-surfactants, inhibitors, and other species occurs across the aqueous and organic phases of a system.

In the world of drug delivery, self-microemulsifying drug delivery systems, which can be described as isotropic solutions of oils and surfactants that form oil in water microemulsions when they are introduced into an aqueous medium, can improve a number of processes. For example, when presented as capsules, these drug delivery systems can improve the absorption of active ingredients within the body. In addition, with active ingredients that are not water soluble, microemulsions can help resolve that issue, making drugs, antibiotics, and other products created by the drug industry more bioavailable to the end consumer.

BEE International offers a number of homogenization equipment that can help with the formation of microemulsions. Our laboratory homogenizers, including the Nano DeBEE, Mini DeBEE, and Micro DeBEE, are well suited for this application, as well as other applications within the research and development community. Other features and benefits of our laboratory homogenizers include:

  • Maximum operating pressure of up to 45,000 psi
  • Maximum capacity of up to 400 mL/min
  • Ability to create emulsions, dispersions, and microemulsions
  • Capabilities for cell rupture and liposome work

To learn more about what BEE International has to offer, please contact us today.

For more information on cell lysis methods, download our FREE eBook:

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How to Select a Homogenizer for Emulsions

Posted by Deb Shechter on Jan 27, 2017 12:30:00 PM

how to select a homogenizer.jpgHomogenization, also known as particle size reduction, is an ever-growing process that is used in a variety of industries, including (but not limited to) pharmaceutical, biotech, cosmetic, and food. With benefits like reduction of product cost, improved taste, appearance, texture, and shelf life, and increased overall customer satisfaction, it’s no wonder more and more industries are looking to adapt this unique processing step.

When it comes to creating emulsions with a homogenizer, the opportunities – and possibilities – are endless.  At BEE International, our line of high pressure homogenizers create high quality micro and nano emulsions that boast the following qualities:

  • Droplet size at or below 100nm
  • Extension of product shelf life
  • Increased efficacy
  • Controlled release of finished product
  • Extremely small and uniform particles that can be easily sterilized
  • Clear emulsions

However, before choosing the right homogenizer to create stable micro and nano emulsions, it is beneficial to know a bit about our wide variety of options. Continue reading to learn more about the homogenizers that we have available for purchase.

Laboratory Homogenizers

Our laboratory homogenizers at BEE International are well suited for the creation of cell dispersions and emulsions, and include the Nano DeBEE, Mini DeBEE, and Micro DeBEE. These homogenizers offer a maximum operating pressure of up to 45,000psi (3,100 bar), with a capacity of up to 400 mL/min and 22 L/hr. In addition, our laboratory homogenizers offer a guaranteed scale up to a pilot plant or industrial manufacturing setting.

Pilot Plant and Industrial Homogenizers

Similar to our line of laboratory homogenizers, our line of Pilot Plant and Industrial homogenizers – the DeBEE 2000, DeBEE 3000 and DeBEE 4000 -- offer high quality, repeatable, and scalable results. With features including multiple process intensifiers, synchronized pump systems, menu guided maintenance and calibration, and CE and cGMP compliance, these high pressure homogenizers are guaranteed to fit your industry’s unique processing needs.

BEE High Pressure Homogenizers

Our line of homogenizers at BEE International are suitable for a wide variety of needs, and one thing remains the same, no matter which homogenizer you select: our high quality. Our technology combines all available forces that affect the manufacturing process: turbulent premixing, cavitation, impact, high shear, and high intensity. Together, these forces ensure that your end result, whether it is cell disruption or the creation of stable emulsions, dispersions, and suspensions, will suit both your needs and the needs of your customer.

For more information on the suite of homogenization equipment offered at BEE International, please contact us today. In addition, our free eBook, "How to Achieve Efficient and Consistent Particle Size Reduction” is available for download here:

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Colloid vs. Suspension: What is the Difference?

Posted by Tal Shechter on Jan 25, 2017 12:30:00 PM

colloid vs suspensionHomogenizers are gaining popularity in the industries of biotech, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food. They have been proven to simplify processes, improve taste, texture, and appearance of finished products, and save money – and time. Who wouldn’t want to implement this powerful technology? However, before selecting a homogenizer for the task at hand, it is important to understand two important by-products of homogenization – suspensions and emulsions. What are suspensions and emulsions? What are the differences? And how are they related to homogenization? Continue reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.

Suspensions

A suspension, simply put, is a mixture of two substances – one dispersed into the other. Examples of suspensions include droplets of oil in air, and sand in water. Particles in a suspension are easy to see, as they are larger than the particles making up the solution. Because of this quality, these larger particles within a suspension will settle if allowed to stand undisturbed. This inherent quality also makes suspensions very easy to separate through filtration.

Colloids

Colloids, like suspensions, can also be defined as a mixture of two components. The particles in a colloid can be solid, liquid, or gas; similarly, the medium that these particles are suspended in can also be solid, liquid, or gas. However, unlike suspensions, particles in a colloid are miniscule in size and cannot be easily separated or filtered. However, although the particles are small in size, they can be seen, thanks to the Tyndall effect, which is defined as the scattering of light by particles in a colloid.

BEE Homogenizers

With the knowledge of suspensions and colloids firmly under your belt, you can now wisely choose the right homogenizer for your application. No matter what the end goal, BEE International has the right homogenizer for the task. Our homogenizers are suitable for virtually any application and environment, including laboratory use, as well as pilot plant and industrial use. Our homogenizers offer the following benefits:

  • Guaranteed scale-up to production
  • Proprietary high pressure intensifier system
  • Compliant with CFR 21 part 11 requirements
  • Wide range of production capabilities and levels of automation
  • SCADA compliance
  • Sanitary design and features suitable for the pharmaceutical industry
  • Security modes and authorizations

To learn more about how our suite of high pressure homogenizers can help with your industry’s needs, please contact us today. For even more information, our eBook, “How to Achieve Efficient & Consistent Particle Size Reduction” can be downloaded for free here:

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Suspension vs. Emulsion: How Do They Differ?

Posted by Deb Shechter on Jan 20, 2017 12:30:00 PM

suspensions and emulsionHomogenization – also known as particle size reduction – is a growing technique used in a multitude of industries. With benefits to the end product including longer shelf life, lower cost, and improved look, taste, and texture, it’s no wonder more and more industries are looking to incorporate this technique into their process!

In the world of homogenization, two terms that are often used are emulsion and suspension. But what do these terms mean, and how do they differ from one another? Continue reading to learn more about emulsion and suspension.

Suspension

A suspension is an evenly dispersed mixture of substances consisting of two components: the dispersed material and the dispersion medium. The dispersed material is usually in a solid phase, although it can take the form of any phase. The dispersion medium is what the dispersed materials are distributed in. For example, in an example using muddy water, the dispersed material would be soil or dirt, and the dispersion medium would be water. Particles in a suspension are typically visible to the naked eye, and with filtration, one component can be separated from the other. Other examples of suspensions include sand in water, dust in air, or even droplets of oil in air.

Emulsion

An emulsion is similar to a suspension only in that it is a mixture of two components. That is where the similarities end, however. Unlike a suspension, which can consist of two components of any phase, an emulsion is a mixture of two liquids.

What makes an emulsion interesting is the fact that these two liquids are immiscible – that is, they are not able to be mixed without help. In other words, emulsions do not form spontaneously, and need an external force – mixing, shaking, stirring, or the addition of an emulsifier – to maintain its stability.

BEE International

BEE International has a number of high pressure homogenizers that are adept at creating stable nano and micro emulsions. Our focus on efficient, high quality, and repeatable particle size reduction results in emulsions that boast the following qualities:

  • Achieving the desired particle size with droplet sizes around or below 100mm
  • Extending product shelf life
  • Increased efficacy
  • Controlled release
  • Creation of products that minimize clogging
  • Products that are more cost effective, due to the even distribution of active ingredients


To learn more about suspensions and emulsions, as well as how to choose the best homogenizer for your industry’s needs, please contact us today.

For more information on how to achieve efficient and consistent particle size reduction, download our FREE eBook:

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Emulsions vs. Dispersions: What is the Difference?

Posted by Deb Shechter on Jan 10, 2017 12:30:00 PM

emulsions versus dispersionsHomogenization is the process of reducing particle size of molecules to aid in more efficient and higher quality emulsions and dispersions. This technique is used across numerous industries: pharmaceutical, biotech, cosmetic, drug, and food. However, before you begin your search for the right homogenizer to perform the task at hand, it is important to understand the world of emulsions and dispersions: what are they? How are they created? What are the differences between them? Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two. Continue reading to learn more about dispersions and emulsions and how to choose the correct homogenizer for your industry’s needs.

Emulsions

An emulsion is defined as a heterogeneous system consisting of two liquids that are incapable of being mixed together. One example of a possible emulsion would be a mixture of oil and water – two immiscible liquids. To prevent the liquids from separating out – as they tend to do – a third liquid, called a surfactant, is added. The surfactant works to prevent the liquids from separating, and allows one liquid to be evenly dispersed into the other. When oil is the liquid that is dispersed, the emulsion is classified as an oil-in-water emulsion. Conversely, when water is the liquid that is dispersed, the emulsion is known as a water-in-oil dispersion.

Dispersions

Dispersions are also known as suspensions, and consist of solid particles – ranging anywhere from 0.001 micrometers to 1 micrometer -- distributed evenly throughout a continuous medium. Examples of dispersions include ink, dyes, and even food items, like barbecue sauce. While the process of dispersing is often referred to as grinding or milling, no particle grinding actually occurs. Instead, equipment like colloid mills, sand mills, or high pressure homogenizers are used to create dispersions.

Choosing the Right Homogenizer for your Needs

When creating a dispersion or emulsion for your industry’s application, it is important to choose a high quality homogenizer. A good high pressure homogenizer uses a large amount of energy to create emulsions, which means that less surfactant is needed to get the job done.  Similarly, when creating dispersions, high pressure homogenizers are highly efficient at creating very small particle sizes.

BEE International Homogenizers

BEE International has a number of high quality homogenizers to meet the needs of your industry. Our homogenizers work for virtually every setting, including laboratories, pilot plants, and industrial production. Contact us today to learn more about how our high pressure homogenizers can meet your specialized needs.

For more information on particle size reduction and how to achieve efficient and consistent results, download our FREE eBook:

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Oil Emulsions: Why High Pressure Homogenizers Perform Emulsions Best

Posted by Tal Shechter on Dec 14, 2016 12:30:00 PM

oil-emulsions.jpgAn emulsion is defined as a dispersion of one liquid into another immiscible liquid. An emulsion consists of two phases: the dispersed/internal phase and the continuous/external phase. Emulsions are created in a variety of In the world of oil emulsions, one of the liquids is aqueous and the other is oil. However, oil emulsions can be easily classified into three main groups: water-in-oil emulsions, oil-in-water emulsions, and multiple (or complex) emulsions. The type of emulsion formed is dependent on the amount of each phase that is present. Continue reading for a brief explanation of the various types of emulsions, and how BEE International’s line of high pressure homogenizers can assist with your next emulsification project.  

Water-In-Oil Emulsions

  • Water-in-oil emulsions consist of water droplets in an oil external phase. These are the most produced emulsions in the industry.

Oil-in-Water Emulsions

  • Oil-in-water emulsions consist of oil droplets in a water external phase. These are often referred to as reverse emulsions.

Multiple Emulsions

  • Also known as Complex Emulsions, these types of emulsions consist of water droplets suspended in bigger droplets suspended in a continuous phase.

High Pressure Homogenization for Nano/Micro Emulsions

BEE International’s line of high pressure homogenizers help with the creation of emulsions for a number of growing industries, including cosmetic, pharmaceutical, chemical, and food. Our high pressure homogenizers, like the DeBEE 2000, produce a homogenous mix of small, uniform particles for an evenly dispersed emulsion or mixture. Our equipment offers the following benefits:

  • Ability to produce nano and micro emulsions
  • Can achieve stable emulsions with droplet sizes below 100nm
  • Extended product shelf life and efficacy of resulting emulsion
  • Ability to vary shear force, impact force, and cavitation
  • Sanitary design
  • Modular design for lower cost replacement parts
  • Validation procedures and documentation
  • Data gathering capabilities
  • SCADA
  • Automated Clean In Place (CIP)
  • PLC Control and monitoring for simple push-button operation
  • Stainless steel enclosure
  • Guaranteed scale-up from R&D to manufacturing

BEE International offers a variety of high pressure homogenizers for use in all manufacturing settings, including laboratory, pilot plants, and large-scale industrial production plants.

Contact us today to learn more about how our line of high pressure homogenizers can help with your application. For more information on how our high pressure homogenizers can assist with the emulsion process, download our free eBook, “Advantages of BEE Homogenizers for the Pharmaceutical Industry”:

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Emulsion Products That Can Benefit from High Pressure Homogenization

Posted by Deb Shechter on Oct 11, 2016 12:30:00 PM

Emulsions are a common application in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries to make creams, lotions, hair conditioners, make up and many other products. For more information on emulsions in the food industry, read an earlier blog here.

An emulsion is a mixture of two immiscible liquids like oil and water. Tiny droplets of the first liquid are dispersed throughout the second liquid. With an oil in water emulsion, the oil droplets are dispersed in the water phase and the product will have a lighter feel e.g. in moisturizing lotions or day creams.

emulsions-high-pressure-homogenization.jpg

In the case of a water in oil emulsion, the water droplets are dispersed in an oil phase and the product will have a heavier, greasier feel e.g. in night creams or sunscreens. Water and silicone emulsions are another common emulsion type in cosmetic products.  

Emulsion products are also frequently used in the pharmaceutical industry. They are used to make medicines more palatable, for injectables, and for improving the visual and textural properties of medicated creams and ointments.

High Pressure Homogenization for Improved Emulsions

DeBEE high pressure homogenizers produce a homogenous mix of smaller, more uniform particles. Our innovative technology offers unique benefits for producing nano / micro emulsions. Our homogenizers can achieve stable emulsions with droplet sizes below 100nm. Particle size is so small and uniform that emulsions can become clear. Product shelf life is extended, and efficacy is increased.

Our equipment produces unprecedented results for your emulsion products by allowing you to optimize the mixing process to better achieve your desired product characteristics. This is accomplished by varying the cavitation, shear and impact forces applied to a formulation. Our high pressure homogenizers boast a sanitary design and features like validation procedures and documentation, data gathering, SCADA and automated CIP.

DeBEE High Pressure Homogenizers for Every Stage of Product Development

Our laboratory homogenizers are compact, easy to use units with small minimum sample sizes and many experimentation options with scalable results. Our pilot plant equipment gives reliable results and guaranteed scale-up, and our industrial homogenizers yield consistent results in fewer passes.

Contact us today for more information and to hear about our free sample testing program.

Are you in the Pharmaceutical Industry? For more tips on improving your emulsion products, download our FREE eBook, "Advantages of BEE Homogenizers for the Pharmaceutical Industry":

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Types of Emulsifiers & How High Pressure Homogenization Creates Stable Emulsions

Posted by David Shechter on Sep 19, 2016 12:30:00 PM

emulsifiers.jpgAn emulsifier (or an emulgent) is a substance that essentially helps in the formation and stabilization of an emulsion. Emulsifiers are surface-active agents that act as the interface between the two immiscible liquids, like oil and water. Emulsifier molecules have a hydrophilic end that forms chemical bonds with water but not with oils; and a hydrophobic end that forms chemical bonds with oils but not with water.

There are many different types of emulsifiers used in manufacturing. Here, we will highlight some of those used in the Food, Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic industries:

Emulsifiers in the Food Industry

The use of emulsifiers is prevalent in the manufacture of food products. Think of a simple vinaigrette salad dressing. If you apply kinetic energy (i.e. shake the bottle), the oil and water will form a fairly homogenous mixture. However, if you let it stand for a minute, it will separate out again. If you introduce an emulsifier like mustard or lecithin, the salad dressing will remain a homogenous mixture for longer. This produces the “creamy” style salad dressings that are preferred by many consumers.

Some common types of emulsifiers in the food industry include egg yolk (where the main emulsifying agent is lecithin), soy lecithin, mustard, Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides (DATEM), PolyGlycerol Ester (PGE), Sorbitan Ester (SOE) and PG Ester (PGME).

Emulsifiers in the Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Industries

Different types of emulsifiers are used in pharmacy to prepare emulsions such as creams, balms and ointments. These products usually consist of a carrier, such as water, to which a chemical with medicinal properties is added. This emulsion is stabilized by the addition of an emulsifier to prevent separation and increase the shelf life of the product.

Emulsifiers are often used in beauty products like creams and lotions to mix water with essential oils. Water in oil emulsions are used for a heavier, greasier feel (e.g. night & sun protection creams). Oil in water emulsions are used in products with a lighter feel (e.g. moisturizing lotions or day creams).

Detergents are a type of emulsifier that will physically interact with both oil and water, thus stabilizing the interface between the oil and water droplets in suspension. This principle is exploited in the manufacture of soaps, to remove grease.

High Pressure Homogenization for Stable Emulsions

Emulsifiers clearly play an important role in the manufacture of countless products, but they are not always suitable (e.g. in the case of milk), and they are often not enough. DeBEE High Pressure Homogenizers can work alone or with an emulsifier for a smoother, more homogenous emulsion with more desirable properties.

Contact us today to discuss your particular emulsion needs, or for a free, confidential sample testing and analysis.

For more information about homogenization, particle size reduction, and efficient and consistent results, download our FREE eBook:

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Particle Size Reduction 101: Homogenization, Dispersions & Emulsions

Posted by Tal Shechter on Aug 10, 2016 12:30:00 PM

particle size reductionThe term “particle size reduction” means exactly that - the process of reducing average particle size in a given substance.  

Homogenization is one kind of particle size reduction. It is a process that uses mechanical force to break down particles or droplets in a liquid into smaller and more uniform sizes. The result of homogenization is a dispersion, where fine particles of one substance are scattered throughout another substance.

Dispersions can be further classified by the sizes of these scattered particles:

  1. Solution: a homogenous mixture with tiny particles of a molecular size (e.g. sugar in water).
  2. Suspension: a heterogeneous mixture with large particles that will often settle out on standing or can be filtered out (e.g. sand in water).
  3. Colloid: a mixture that is somewhere in between a solution and a suspension. An emulsion is a type of colloid and is a mixture of two immiscible (unmixable) liquids. The first liquid forms tiny particles scattered throughout the second liquid. Oil and water, for example, will form an opaque suspension when mixed, but will separate on standing (1).

Particle size reduction through homogenization has countless applications in many industries including food, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, cosmetic and more. A common example of a homogenized liquid is milk. In the days before homogenization, milk naturally separated and a layer of fatty cream would rise to the top; leaving what was essentially skim milk below. Homogenization is used to break up the fat globules into smaller droplets so that they remain suspended in the milk, creating an even, homogenous mixture (2).

BEE International: Your Partner in Particle Size Reduction

BEE International is the supplier of high pressure homogenizers. The BEEI difference lies in the fact that we synergistically combine and fine-tune all available mechanical forces (including turbulence, cavitation, shear, impact and process intensity) in order to produce the best possible product for you. We produce a tight distribution of small, uniform particles every time. Depending on your product, benefits include a longer shelf life, increased bioavailability, improved sensory characteristics, and greater productivity and lower manufacturing costs due to fewer passes.  

Our laboratory, pilot and industrial homogenizers all produce reliable and consistent particle size reduction. Contact us and we would be excited to develop a customized solution just right for you.

Want to know more about particle size reduction? Download our FREE eBook: How to Achieve Efficient & Consistent Particle Size Reduction

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