The process of emulsification refers to the dispersion of one fluid within another fluid or liquid it does not dissolve in. Emulsification is not a chemical reaction in that the structure and properties of the individual ingredients or fluids are retained; however a homogeneous mix, or a ‘colloid’ as it is technically known as, is formed. Emulsions are useful and often needed when the properties of two or more elements are required for some purpose, without running the risk of a chemical reaction leading to the formation of a new compound by their combination. Emulsification is also helpful when a steady mix is required, that is, one that does not change its physical state or reduce in quantity over time and under changing pressure, temperature and humidity conditions.
In practical terms, this means that emulsification is a process that is heavily relied upon today to facilitate and maintain the manufacture of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products – gels, toothpaste, ointments, creams, lotions, and the list goes on. With better technology and widespread and ever increasing demand for these medical and personal care products, emulsification has become a lucrative and reliable industry.
One would have to admit that starting an emulsification plant requires a substantial investment in the beginning. The most commonly used apparatus for this is the vacuum emulsifier mixer, which in itself is a combination of machines for loading, mixing, heating and cooling the ingredients by means of steam and electricity. These are heavy duty stainless steel mixing tanks with an aluminium silicate coating on their outer surfaces that prevent these surfaces from heating up too much and thereby posing any kind of threat to the workmen who operate them. Added to this is the essential requirement of a meticulously controlled environment that must not allow any degree of pollution due to the entry of dust or microbes in the space. This requirement itself makes it necessary to have in place an inspection window with an inbuilt light fixture, such that the emulsification process may be monitored without physically entering the space.
All in all, the vacuum emulsifying machine is a highly mechanized and automated setup which poses a daunting initial cost. Nevertheless, the degree of automation also makes it capable of storing presets and easily repeating an operation that it has conducted once, thus greatly reducing the operating costs. Since it can produce in bulk at these low running costs, it turns out to be a worthwhile investment.