A homogenizer is the name given to a combination of machines, tanks and controls that are used to create emulsions. Emulsions are the technical term for suspended state liquids more commonly known as creams, gels, ointments, toothpaste, and other such items that have become crucial to everyday life and the lifestyle that is associated with it. It is needless to say that there is an unending and ever increasing demand for these products today and thus also for homogenizers, also known as emulsifiers.
Several types of emulsification systems exist in the industry today, that are based mainly on the technology used for the dispersion process, that is either shear force or pressure induced mechanisms. However, the basic setup of each of these systems is the same, starting with stainless steel aluminium silicate coated tanks where the ingredients are loaded, to one where they are agitated, to obtain the final product. Accessory units for heating, cooling and temperature and pressure control are also part of the whole package.
The stability of the created emulsion will rely heavily on the achieved size of the component particle droplets; the lower it is the better the emulsion. To achieve this minimum droplet size, often as low as 0.5 micron each, very high values of shear force are required to agitate the loaded ingredients, causing them to disperse with a high centrifugal force and remain suspended afterwards. It is also important for a good emulsion to achieve uniform particle size throughout the cross section of the product.
Usually the high pressure homogenizer is the one that can achieve the finest possible droplet size. Also known as an inline homogenizer, it is comprised of a central suction pipe and a radially mounted outlet, and it becomes impossible for any portion of the individual ingredient materials to pass through without getting agitated. Thus a hundred percent agitation rate, and thus an efficiently produced and stable emulsion, is achieved.
An inline homogenizer is able to reduce the processing time associated with conventional emulsifiers by as much as 80 percent. This is attributed to the design of the rotor blades. It is thus very well suited for large scale industrial use, where there is a need for continuous production over very long periods of time. This system has other advantages as well, being relatively quieter as compared to its predecessors, and also offering a great deal of flexibility in design.