How Lab Homogenizers Contribute to R&D

Some of us may remember grandma with the spoon and bowl or mom with the Mixmaster but for R&D scientists this mixing action is accomplished by using lab homogenizers.  These compact but immeasurably useful benchtop instruments are used to develop scalable processes for processing ingredients – some of which may be initially incompatible – into something useful, valuable and marketable.

What Lab Homogenizers Do

Unlike eggs, flour, milk and other (sometimes secret) ingredients in cake and cookie recipes lab homogenizers are able to not only combine different elements but also process materials in a way to achieve the objectives of R&D exercises.  Advantages of lab homogenizers are numerous; ranking high on the list is saving time and, in the case of costly ingredients, money.

CAT Scientific lab homogenizers help R&D scientists solve mixing challenges that cannot be accomplished using the best stirring methods available.  We define homogenizing as including

  • mixing
  • emulsifying
  • dispersing
  • dissolving and
  • disintegrating solid, liquid or gaseous phase media into other media.

Homogenizer systems used in R&D labs and pilot plants consist of drive units – electrically or air powered –  and a wide variety of rotor-stator options (together called homogenizer generators) to accomplish dispersing tasks.  Examples include gas into a liquid to produce foam, solids into a liquid such as pigments in paints and lacquers and processing immiscible liquids such as oil and water. Cell disruption and tissue preparation are examples of biological applications for these tools.

How Lab Homogenizers Work

The bottom of the rotor shaft that is attached to the drive motor is machined to sharp edges to compliment the stationary stator fixed to the drive motor housing.  The base of the stator is likewise machined with sharp edges.  As the material is drawn up into the generator assembly and into the working area between the rotor and stator it is subjected to a combination of mechanical shearing and sonic energy that homogenize the material.

Rotor and stator generator components are produced in sizes to process materials in containers ranging from test tubes to 20 liter beakers.   They are designed to handle or perform specific functions based on the type of samples being processed.  Examples include viscous or coarse samples, low viscosity materials, aqueous media and knife edges for cutting applications. These are classified as V for viscous, N for low viscosity, F for fine and M for knife or cutting applications as described in our dispersing tool application table.

Rotor-stator assemblies are interchangeable using the supplied rotor wrench. This allows researchers to perform multiple dispersion experiments using the same drive motor.  Drive motor are available in several power ratings in watts with selection governed by the volume and physical characteristics of the material being processed.  These variable speed drive motors should be started at the lowest RPM and ramped to the desired speed to help avoid splashing samples out of the container.  Drive motors should be firmly attached to an adjustable  mounting system to hold them steady in the beaker or flask.

Special Attachments

Other applications for lab homogenizers are performed using special attachments to pulverize solid samples for further processing and to provide closed loop or in line processing.  The former is handled by the AX 60 grinding mill and the latter by encasing the rotor-stator configuration in one of two flow-through chamber models.   These accessories should be used with higher power drive motors such as the X1000.

If you are considering the purchase of a lab homogenizer help us help you in making the correct decision.  You can do this by filling out our homogenizer questionnaire and faxing it to us.  We’ll get back to you with our recommendations.

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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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