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How does an emulsion mixer work?

June 16, 2013

Firstly, let’s go over what an emulsion is. An emulsion is a combination of liquids that have trouble in bonding. Such examples are oil and water, because of the difference in their molecular structure (both attract to their own molecules strongly) usually they separate inside the same container, water being on the bottom with the oil floating above it. Emulsions belong to a general group of two-phase arrangements of matter called colloids. Sometimes colloid and emulsion are terms that can be transferred to mean the same thing but emulsion should only be used when the dissolved and continuous phase are both liquids. An emulsion one part of the solution is dissolved in the other part (which is the continuous phase). Some notable examples are milk, cutting liquids for metal works and particular food dressings. An example of colloid is the photo-sensitive side of a camera film roll.

Emulsion is derived from the Latin word meaning ‘to milk’ since milk is (besides other elements) an emulsion of water and some milk fat.

Emulsions can be single emulsions (for example just oil-in-water or water-in-oil) and multiple emulsions such as water-in-oil-in-water and vice-versa emulsions. Now we know about the meaning of emulsions we need to discuss what an emulsion mixer does.

It’s a simple concept – an emulsion mixer is a piece of machinery that accepts two or more liquids into a static container which houses one or more revolving rotors inside, these work to combine the two liquids and stabilise them in the process using an emulsifier.

To help you digest this information, we will focus on one type of industrial emulsion mixer – paint. In the U.K. one type of paint is called emulsion but in the U.S. the same paint is known as latex. The reasons for these names are because they are referring to paints that employ synthetic polymers such as vinyl, acrylic (PVA), styrene acrylic or basic acrylic as binding agent. However, the term latex used in the U.S. paints do not have latex rubber in their ingredients, it actually simply refers to an aqueous dispersal. They add numerous chemicals in the forms of liquids and disperse these into water, adding a binding agent (or emulsifier) to bind and stabilise the mixture so that it will not re-dissipate in any solvent or water that initially carried it. The emulsion mixer itself is very similar to the basic one described above; only certain modifications will be made to fit its purpose exactly.

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