The Forces Behind High Pressure Homogenization

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David Shechter
May 16, 2016
min read
The Forces Behind High Pressure Homogenization

High pressure homogenization is touted as a premier method for reducing particle size, rupturing cell membranes, and creating products like emulsions and suspensions. Yet how is it different from other homogenization methods? Of course, its name tips off the fact that intensive pressure is a key driving force. Yet pressure alone could not achieve particles diameters of below 100 nm and consistent/uniform outcomes. It is the action of multiple forces in combination with pressure that allow for such impressive results in only one to two passes. Keep reading to gain a better understanding of each of the forces behind high pressure homogenization.

  • Turbulent Premixing

Before homogenization, high pressure machines like stirrers and agitators will put the sample through something called turbulent premixing. This prepares the sample by mechanically loosening bonds, thereby making the actual homogenization process easier and more time efficient.

  • Cavitation

Cavitation is thought of as a phenomenon that can occur when a high amount of pressure is exerted on a liquid sample; in plain terms, it forms liquid-free spaces within a liquid solution. Pressure allows the liquid to achieve high kinetic energy, which in turn increases velocity. This force is particularly desirable in particle size reduction, and can be found in machinery like sonic mixers and high pressure homogenizers. (1)

  • Impact

Most frequently found in bead mills, impact is vital to reducing the size of solid particles suspended in a liquid suspension. Although bead mills are actually made to lyse difficult-to-disrupt cells, particularly those with cell walls, the force of impact allows them to also effectively reduce particle size.

  • High Shear

Shear force can be created when a tangential force is applied to a sample. This is particularly beneficial when dispersions are required, as high-shear mixers and homogenizers are able to effectively mix two immiscible phases (e.g. water-in-oil or oil-in-water emulsions). Although high-shear mixers are an option in terms of technique, high pressure homogenizers can actually achieve higher shear than these specialized equipment.

  • Operating Pressure

Key to the workings of a high pressure homogenizer, operating pressure is exerted as the sample is being pushed through a narrow space. This allows for enhanced action of other forces, as well as for increased ability to rupture tough cell walls. High quality equipment should be able to achieve a maximum operating pressure of approximately 3100 bars.

Pion: Homogenizer Equipment Recommendation

As you hunt for particle size reduction equipment that will suit your lab’s purposes, consider how the above-listed factors will improve the quality of your products. Although many companies manufacture homogenizers, few offer the multiple mechanical forces needed to achieve reliable and reproducible results. One example of equipment that does meet such expectations is the high pressure homogenizer by Pion.

Pion's BEE brand products are trusted by researchers and lab managers around the world 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 researchers & corporations across a wide variety of industries.

Learn more about Pion's particle size reduction equipment here.

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