News | October 31, 2003

Shifting high-speed powder induction into overdrive

Click here to download this complete article in PDF format.

Every process engineer who has worked with powders such as fumed silica, CMC, guar, xanthan, carageenan, alginates and other thickeners has come face to face with one of the toughest challenges in mixing. Many of the powders that are most often used in the process industries are hard to wet out and mix.They will float for hours on the surface of a liquid batch. Even with vigorous agitation, they'll sail in circles on the slopes of a vortex and resist being drawn down into the batch. Once submerged, they form agglomerates that continue to resist being separated and dispersed.

In-line mixing systems are designed to break down those agglomerates and wet out the solids. But many systems designed for powder induction actually create more problems than they solve. Especially in first-generation induction systems that combine a pump, eductor and rotor/stator mixer, clogging and maintenance problems can be unrelenting, while the mixing process slows to a crawl.

The cost of mixing hard-to-disperse powders — considering all of the processline delays and maintenance costs that these powders cause in the process industries — is enormous. But today, many process engineers are looking at these powders from a new perspective. Precisely because powder induction is often the cause of bottlenecks, excessive maintenance costs and downtime, it also represents great opportunity.

The quest for a new way to mix and disperse lightweight powders began as an effort to solve one of the oldest challenges in mixing. But the result turns out to have much greater importance than that. By solving numerous production problems at once, the new SLIM (Solid/Liquid Injection Manifold) technology for high-speed powder induction offers gains in overall production and profitability.

The system accelerates the mixing process without having to finance additional lines, equipment upgrades or construction; eliminates the costs associated with frequent clogging; and, in many cases, produces an improvement in end-product quality.

Charles Ross and Son Company