How Do Dounce Homogenizers Work?

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David Shechter
Dec 27, 2016
min read
How Do Dounce Homogenizers Work?

Homogenization is the process of reducing particles to a microscopic size in order to facilitate the creation of emulsions and dispersions. This process is also known as micronization or particle size reduction. Homogenization is widely used across several different industries, including pharmaceutical, biotech, drug, cosmetic, and food. When choosing the correct homogenization technique for your application, it is important to understand the needs of your particular industry, as well as how different homogenization techniques (and homogenizers) operate.

There are several methods of cell homogenization that are commonly used. Continue reading for a brief explanation of each type of cell homogenization:

Mechanical Disruption

  • Involve the use of rotating blades to grind and disperse cells
  • Most effective at homogenizing cell tissues, such as liver
  • Can homogenize small volumes, up to 20 liters
  • Sample loss is minimal


  • Physical disruption used to lyse cells
  • Uses high frequency sound waves to lyse cells, bacteria, and other tissue types
  • Time consuming and best used for small volumes (<100mL)

Manual Grinding

  • Mortar and pestle is used to manually grind cells
  • Best suited for breaking apart plant tissue cells
  • Best used for small volumes
  • Time consuming

Liquid Homogenization

  • Most widely used cell disruption technique
  • Cells are lysed by the action of being forced through a small space
  • Suitable for use with small volumes as well as cultured cells

Liquid homogenization is the most commonly used homogenization technique. In the world of liquid homogenization, there are several types of homogenizers that are designed to complete the task: Potter-Elvehjem homogenizers, French Presses, and the Dounce Homogenizer.

The Dounce Homogenizer, also known as a tissue grinder, works by manually disrupting cells. This type of homogenizer is ideal for preparation of cell lysates or other tissues, and is particularly useful in preparations where heat build up is to be avoided. The Dounce homogenizer is typically made of glass – this allows for easier cleaning and sterilization between uses -- and consists of two different sized pestles that are used to manually lyse cells. One pestle fits tightly within the shaft of the dounce; this allows for maximum friction and cell disruption. The other pestle has a looser fit and works well to create a homogenous sample.

Contact us today to learn more about our line of high pressure homogenizers, as well as which homogenizer would work best for the needs of your industry.

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