What are High Shear Mixers?

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High shear mixers use shear strain to combine immiscible materials. They employ high-speed impellers rotating within a fixed housing to mix materials that are difficult to combine. Different types of high shear mixers are used in various industries, including batch, inline, and ultra-high shear mixers.

High shear mixers are devices designed to thoroughly combine fluid, gaseous and solid components that would not normally mix completely by conventional methods. These devices use a fluid dynamic phenomenon known as shear strain to combine materials that are difficult to mix. Shear deformation occurs when two fluid bodies move past each other at different speeds creating an area of ​​deformation along the contact area between them. High shear mixers use a series of high speed impellers rotating within a fixed housing to effectively mix one component material introduced into a constant stream of another at different speeds. There are several types of commonly used shear mixers, including batch, inline, and ultra-high shear mixers.

Combinations of materials which, under normal conditions, do not mix completely are known as immiscible mixtures. Oil and water are a good example of such a generally incompatible pair of elements. The careful blending of normally incompatible combinations of fluids, solids and gases is, however, a necessary part of many industrial and chemical processes. Where normal combination methods fail, high shear mixers are employed to achieve a thorough mix of otherwise immiscible components. These mixers employ a fluid dynamic mechanism known as shear stress which occurs in the area where two bodies of material moving at different speeds come into contact with each other.

The shear stress causes a localized deformation of the two material flows which serves to combine them vigorously along the shear plane. In high-shear mixing machines, this effect is usually achieved with a high-speed impeller or rotor rotating inside a close-fitting static housing, or stator. Component materials introduced into the chamber created by the stator will experience higher rotational speeds at its outer edge than at its center. This speed differential causes the shear effort required to effectively combine materials. These combinations can consist of different fluids, fluids and gases or fluids and solids, the resulting mixtures of which are known as emulsions, lysols and suspensions, respectively.

Different types of high shear mixers are commonly found in the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and paper manufacturing industries. These include batch, inline and ultra-high shear mixers, each with specific operational benefits. Batch mixers feature a mixing tank with the impeller located at the bottom with the component materials loaded into the tank from the top, allowing this type of mixer to process large volumes quickly. In-line mixers are particularly suited to blending fluid/powder combinations and feature a linear supply/exhaust arrangement that draws the mixture through it and mixes the materials. Ultra high shear mixers generally allow for single pass mixing and have a series of perforations in the stator through which materials are propelled at high speed.

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