Formation of Stable Emulsions: Why Homogenize?

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Tal Shechter
Mar 28, 2016
min read
Formation of Stable Emulsions: Why Homogenize?

Emulsions are one of a few mixtures that can be found in nearly every aspect of the modern American life. From the milk we drink to the lotions and creams we use, and to the anesthetics that allow for painless medical care, emulsions are the brick and mortar that allow our lives to be more convenient and comfortable.

An emulsion is technically defined as a mixture of two immiscible liquids, most commonly oil and water; one acts as the dispersed phase whose particles are spread about, and the other as the continuous phase that absorbs the dispersed particles. Most emulsion literature refers to stable emulsions, which are ideal in that stability correlates with permanent mixing and decreased separation of the two phases. In this edition of our blog, we analyze specific advantages of high pressure homogenization, a common method of emulsion production, for enhancing stability and resistance to physical separation.

High Shear & Mechanical Forces

Creating finely dispersed droplets can be difficult, given that the chemistry of each liquid imparts resistance on the mixing process. The high shear achieved by a high pressure homogenizer is able to overcome this resistance, and importantly, provides long-term stability that lower shear mixers cannot achieve. Other mechanical forces also act on the sample, and can enhance its stability; these include impact, cavitation, and an adjustable process intensity. (1)

Powerful Mixing & High Pressure

Decreased droplet size of the dispersed phase contributes heavily to a mixture’s stability, in that it provides more surface area for chemical contact. Compared with other homogenizer models, the ability of a high pressure homogenizer to decrease droplet size is more significant. In addition, small droplet sizes promote high product quality; shelf life can be increased and physical form is more appealing when the dispersed phase does not separate out. (2)

Other Factors That May Enhance Stability

The above-described factors are specific to high pressure homogenizers and not other equipment. However, the machine used to create an emulsion is not the sole determiner of stability. One or more surfactants can be incorporated into the mixture, which provides a buffer between the two liquids. The viscosity, phase ratio, and density difference should also be analyzed and altered if you are not achieving a stable product.

Pion: The Homogenizer Advantage

Emulsion production involves high pressure mixing, with homogenization as a popular method for its ability to reduce particle sizes more significantly than other blending methods. The first step in synthesizing an emulsion is purchasing equipment that will achieve small and consistent particle size distribution. One such example is the high pressure homogenizer by Pion. Our products are trusted by researchers and lab managers around the world and within all industries for key benefits, such as production of nano/micro emulsions, dispersions, and suspensions. Importantly, this equipment can achieve consistent particle sizes at or below 100 nm, a key benefit for products that require stable emulsions.

In addition, Pion has extensive experience assisting its product users as they transition through the drug development process. Our homogenizers are differentiated for R&D, clinical trials, and manufacturing, and our customer support is reliable, experience-driven, and effective.

Learn more about how Pion can enhance your emulsion production process by visiting us here

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