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An Introduction to Modular Laboratory Homogenizer Systems

Homogenizers as the name suggests perform a homogenizing function. A common example is homogenized milk, a function performed to avoid separation of cream from milk.  This is done with production-line homogenizers.  In R&D labs and for initial pilot plant operations lab homogenizers are put into play.  This post introduces you to modular laboratory homogenizer systems and their components.

Laboratory Homogenizing Further Explained

Modular lab homogenizers, also called emulsifiers, dispersers and mixers, find wide application in research and development labs for

  • food and chemical processing
  • cosmetic manufacturing
  • biotechnology and pharmaceutical production
  • ensuring cannabinoid and terpene uniformityin the production of cannabis
  • and similar functions

Modular lab homogenizers can operate at much faster speeds than mixers.  Those offered by CAT Scientific operating at controllable speeds that reach as high as 45,000 revolutions per minute.

The speed you select depends on what you are processing, but because higher speeds process samples quicker it can help protect materials from heat damage.

What Modular Homogenizers Do

Applications for modular homogenizers in addition to those mentioned above include but are not limited to:

  • Fast mixing
  • Decreasing reaction time
  • Disintegration of agglomerates – smoothing or refining
  • Breaking down organic and macromolecular substances

CAT Scientific modular homogenizers used in research and product development work with samples as small as 0.1 milliliter to as large as 40 liters or more. Small units can be hand held but most are mounted on an adjustable stand to provide needed stability.

What is a Modular Lab Homogenizer?

They are called modular homogenizers because individual models – based on capacity and power – can be fitted to perform a variety of mixing functions. Here we’ll take a brief look at the components of a modular homogenizing system.

Lab Homogenizer Motors Explained

Homogenizer motors, also called drivers, are sized in accordance with users’ requirements in terms of speed and electrical power in terms of watts. (Air-powered homogenizer drivers are available for use in volatile environments.)

The power needed relates to the materials being processed – i.e. highly viscous samples require higher power.

Most homogenizer motors are offered with variable speed control, which is also useful to minimize splashing on start-up.

Digital speed displays are a useful feature to support record keeping and to assure like conditions are met in when processing subsequent batches. Optional separate power control modules are available for those models without variable speed controls.

Lab Homogenizer Generators Explained

Homogenizer generators consist of three parts and represent the business end of CAT Scientific modular homogenizer systems.   Generators are comprised of a rotor and a stator plus a generator tube.

Rotors, as the name suggests, rotate.  They have very sharply machined teeth designed to perform specific homogenizing functions.

The rotor is attached to a shaft (or axle) that slides into the generator tube and clicks into the drive motor itself.  Think of a drill bit inserted into your hand-held drill motor

Stators screw onto the end of the generator tube.  Stators have sharply machined slots that complement the sharply machined teeth of the rotor design.  As the name implies they remain stationary.

The generator tube may have ports allowing media being mixed to circulate and help cool the assembly.

When the shaft and rotor are inserted into the generator tube the result is a shaft-generator assembly. These are available in different lengths depending on the use of the modular homogenizer. The generator tube is inserted into the homogenizer motor housing until a click is heard signaling that the rotor shaft drive pin has seated.  The tube is secured by a hand-tightened fastening screw.

Components included in the shaft-generator assembly are Teflon or ceramic seals, bearings, O-rings, gaskets and other subcomponents based on the specific homogenizer model selected. Special tools are required to attach and remove shaft-generator assembly components.  These are supplied with the system.

How Lab Homogenizer Generators Work

When powered up the rotor-stator assembly operates by the rotor drawing the sample up into the assembly where it is violently propelled through the stator slots.  It is this action that performs the function for which the unit is being employed and which guides the selection of the generator design.

Generator design, in turn, depends on other considerations such as the viscosity of samples.

For example, viscosities are broadly classified into fine, normal, coarse (or medium) and knife.  You can read more about the modular homogenizer systems in our Homogenizer Systems Overview.

Fine (CAT designation F) is for low to normal viscosity liquids requiring a high degree of homogenization. Normal (CAT designation N) is for aqueous viscosity such as water and cooking oils. Coarse (CAT designation V) is for medium viscosity liquids or coarse media. Specify a knife generator for stringy fibrous materials.

CAT Scientific personnel will help you select rotor and stator configurations among the wide variety available based on what you are processing.

Important Accessories for Lab Modular Homogenizing Systems

Adjustable stands or mounting systems for homogenizers are required to keep your dispersion equipment from oscillating and possibly damaging itself and product containers.

Stands also maintain the generator off center in the container to avoid the formation of a vortex. Homogenizer drivers are designed to accept a support rod that is affixed to a crossover clamp that in turn is affixed to the vertical support rod and the product container stand.

Further processing options are available by using flow through chambers. See our special post on this equipment.

Maintaining Modular Homogenizer Systems

Shaft generator assemblies should be cleaned after every use and especially if you are changing the formulation of materials being processed. Basic cleaning information is available in user manuals but for more detailed information see our post on Cleaning Tips for CAT Scientific Homogenizers and Emulsifiers.

For complete information on CAT Scientific homogenizer components contact us at 805 618-1859 or complete and return our Homogenizer Questionnaire.

CAT Scientific Modular Homogenizer Systems

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Bob Wilcox

Bob Wilcox has represented CAT Scientific’s family of homogenizers, magnetic stirrers, liquid handling and related laboratory equipment since 2002 when Staufen, Germany-based CAT Ingenieurbüro M. Zipperer GMbH established operations in North America. Bob oversees CAT Scientific laboratory apparatus sales and service organization from the company’s headquarters in Paso Robles, CA. He also is in charge of the parent company’s line of JetCat jet turbines, turboprop, and helicopter power plants for hobbyists’ radio controlled fixed wing and helicopter model aircraft. -- Earlier in Bob’s career he was involved in visual and special effects as well as camera and electronics supervisory responsibilities for the motion picture and television industry.

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