Homogenization refers to the process of the mixture of two or more substances that are immiscible, in order to obtain a uniform distribution. Any device used to accomplish this is named a homogenizer and they appeal to a series of strategies to reach this goal.
The technique is based on simple physical principles. The most common homogenizers are based on mechanical systems; however the use of ultrasound is also possible. It imposes high pressure, high shear force, turbulence, impact, or any combination of these, to particles or droplets forcing their dispersion and physical breakdown. Moreover, in a finely optimized system, the particles produced will present a narrow size distribution with predictable and controllable mean particle size. These are often the most desired properties when designing particulate systems.
It is the process of choice to prepare liquid-liquid (emulsion) and solid-liquid (suspension) mixtures. The long-term stability, uniformity, consistency, or colour of emulsions and suspensions is highly dependent of the particle size and decidedly enhanced by the reduction in droplet and particle size. Other improvements include longer shelf-life, higher bioavailability of drugs, or higher reaction rates in chemical systems.
Homogenizers can be specifically designed to operate with very different systems and are easily scalable from laboratory research to full industrial production – high versatility. They find ample use in different technological fields ranging from pharmaceutical and biotechnological, to agricultural and chemical industries. Drug delivery systems, cellular tissue disruption, plant fibre separation, precooked and canned foods, creams and lotions, or paints and lubricants are only a few examples where homogenization is key for product success.
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