Ultrasonic Homogenizers

Ultrasonic homogenizers are powerful tools to mix and homogenize solid-liquid and liquid-liquid suspensions. Ultrasonic homogenization is a mechanical process to reduce particles in a liquid so that they become uniformly small and evenly distributed. Hielscher offers powerful ultrasonic homogenizers for application in lab and production scale.

Applications and Impact of Ultrasonic Homogenizers

Ultrasonic homogenizers are powerful and reliable mixers, which are used in lab and industry for numerous applications.
An ultrasonic homogenizer can be used for various applications, including:

  • Homogenization: Ultrasonic homogenizers can homogenize samples to create uniform and consistent mixtures.
  • Dispersion: Ultrasonic homogenizers can be used to disperse solid particles in liquids to create stable suspensions. Ultrasonication is extraordinarily efficient in creating nano-dispersions.
  • Emulsification: Ultrasonic homogenizers can be used to create stable emulsions and nanoemulsions by breaking up and dispersing immiscible liquids, such as oil and water.
  • Cell Disruption: Ultrasonic homogenizers can break open cells to extract intracellular components such as proteins, nucleic acids, enzymes, and metabolites.
  • Degassing: Ultrasonic homogenizers can be used to remove dissolved gases from liquids, such as degassing HPLC solvents or cooling fluids.
  • Ultrasonically-assisted Chemical Reactions: Ultrasonic homogenizers can also be used for sonication-assisted chemical reactions, such as sonochemical synthesis, catalysis or degradation.

 
Overall, ultrasonic homogenizers are a versatile tool that can be used for a wide range of applications in research, development, and industrial processes.

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Ultrasonic homogenizer for dispersion, emulsification and mixing applications

Ultrasonic homogenizer UIP1000hdT for R&D and production

 

The video shows the ultrasonic mixing and dispersing of Graphite in 250mL of Epoxy Resin (Toolcraft L), using an ultrasonic homogenizer (UP400St, Hielscher Ultrasonics). Hielscher Ultrasonics makes equipment to disperse graphite, graphene, carbon-nanotubes, nanowires or fillers in the lab or in high volume production processes. Typical applications are the dispersing nano materials and micro materials during the functionalization process or for dispersing into resins or polymers.

Mix Epoxy Resin with Graphite Filler using Ultrasonic Homogenizer UP400St (400 Watts)

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Power Ultrasound for Particle Size Reduction: When ultrasonic homogeizers are are used for applications such as mixing, dispersing and emulsifying, the objective is to reduce small particles or droplets in a liquid or slurry to improve uniformity and stability of the mixture. These particles (disperse phase) can be either solids or liquids. A reduction in the mean diameter of the particles increases the number of individual particles. This leads to a reduction of the average particle distance and increases the particle surface area. The graphic shows the correlation between individual particle diameter and total surface area. Surface area and average particle distance can influence the rheology of a liquid.

If there is a difference in specific gravity between the particles and the liquid, the homogeneity of the mixture can influence the stability of the dispersion. If the particle size is similar for the majority of the particles, the tendency to agglomerate during settling or rising reduces, because the similar particles have a similar speed of rising or settling.
 

Ultrasonic homogenizers are highly effective for dispersing of sub-micron- and nano-sized particles.

Ultrasonic dispersions show a uniform particle size distribution with homogeneously reduced particles. The curves show the particle distribution of silica before ultrasound (green curve) and after ultrasonic dispersion (red curve).

 

Ultrasonic vs High Pressure Homogenizers

The most common mechanism for homogenization is high pressure homogenization. There, liquid is pressed at high pressure (approx. 2000 barg) through a homogenizing valve. When passing the valve, the liquid undergoes a short (approx. 50 microsec.) high-pressure low-pressure cycle.
While this mechanism works well for small, soft particles, such as fat globules in milk, it has its limitations when used for dispersions of hard and abrasive materials, such as pigments, polishing media or metal oxides, or fibrous and stringy materials, such as fruit purees, algae or sludge. This is due to the high liquid speeds (up to 120mtr/sec) and because of the small orifices of the valves used. As the abrasive material passes the pumps and the valve orifice, it causes wear. This reduces the efficiency and life time of the pump and of the valve.

Advantages of Ultrasonic Homogenizers

When compared to conventional homogenization methods, ultrasonic homogenizers excel with the following qualities:

  • Ultrasonic homogenizers produce small particles / droplets and a narrow distribution curve.
  • Ultrasonic homogenizers can handle high solid concentrations.
  • Ultrasonic homogenizers prepare stable suspensions, dispersions and emulsions.
  • Ultrasonic homogenizers are precisely controllable as the important process parameters (e.g. amplitude, power, time, temperature and pressure) can be influenced and adjusted.
  • Ultrasonic homogenizers are very effective, energy-efficient, user-friendly and safe to operate.
Ultrasonic dispersing of nanoparticles and nano-structured materials is one of the most prominent applications of ultrasonic homogeizers.

Dispersing CNTs in Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

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Ultrasonic Homogenizers for Heavy-Duty Applications

Wet-milling, grinding and blending are typical applications, where ultrasonicators are utilized as reliable homogenizers. Ultrasonic homogenizers are very efficient for the reduction of soft and hard particles. In contrast to many other homogenizing technologies, ultrasonic probe-type homogenizers can handle even very hard, abrasive and fibrous materials.
The working principle of ultrasound homogenization is based on cavitation. When liquids are exposed to intense ultrasonication, sound waves propagate through the liquid causing alternating high-pressure and low-pressure cycles (approx. 20000 cycles/sec.). During the low-pressure cycle, high-intensity small vacuum bubbles are created in the liquid, as the liquid vapor pressure is attained.
When the bubbles reach a certain size, they collapse violently during a high-pressure cycle. During this implosion very high pressures and high speed liquid jets are generated locally. The resulting currents and turbulences disrupt particle agglomerates and lead to violent collisions between individual particles.

Ultrasonic flow-through reactor and sonotrode with flange allow for continuous processingOne major advantage of ultrasonic homogenizers is the low number of wetted and moving parts. This reduces frictional wear and cleaning time. There are only two wetted parts: The sonotrode and the flow cell. Both have simple geometries and no small or hidden orifices.

Another advantage is the exact control over the operational parameters influencing the cavitation. Hielscher ultrasonic homogenizers can be used at oscillation amplitudes from approx. 1 to 200 micron. The liquid pressure can range from 0 to approx. 500psig. As amplitude and pressure are the most influential parameters, the wide operational range of each parameter allows for very gentle to very destructive processing.

Hielscher ultrasonic homogenizers are amplitude controlled. By this, the adjusted amplitude will be maintained under all operational conditions. This makes ultrasonication controllable and repeatable. Sonication under identical operational parameters will yield consistent and reproducible results. This is important for the quality of the produced material and for the scale-up of process results from the lab to the production level.

Ultrasonic Homogenizers for Any Scale

Hielscher produces ultrasonic homogenizers for the homogenization of any sample volume for batch or inline processing. Laboratory ultrasonic homogenizers can be used for volumes from 1.5mL to approx. 5L. Ultrasonic industrial homogenizers are used for the process development and production of batches from 0.5 to approx 2000L or flow rates from 0.1L to 20m³ per hour.

Design, Manufacturing and ConsultingQuality Made in Germany

Hielscher ultrasonicators are well-known for their highest quality and design standards. Robustness and easy operation allow the smooth integration of our ultrasonicators into industrial facilities. Rough conditions and demanding environments are easily handled by Hielscher ultrasonicators.

Hielscher Ultrasonics is an ISO certified company and put special emphasis on high-performance ultrasonicators featuring state-of-the-art technology and user-friendliness. Of course, Hielscher ultrasonicators are CE compliant and meet the requirements of UL, CSA and RoHs.

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The table below, indicates general device recommendations depending on the batch volume or flow rate to be processed. Click at the device type to get more information on each ultrasonic homogenizer.

Batch VolumeFlow RateRecommended Devices
0.5 to 1.5mLn.a.VialTweeter
1 to 500mL10 to 200mL/minUP100H
10 to 2000mL20 to 400mL/minUP200Ht, UP400St
0.1 to 20L0.2 to 4L/minUIP2000hdT
10 to 100L2 to 10L/minUIP4000hdT
15 to 150L3 to 15L/minUIP6000hdT
n.a.10 to 100L/minUIP16000
n.a.largercluster of UIP16000

Ultrasonic Homogenizers for High Performance Applications

Hielscher ultrasonic homogenizers are the work horse for mixing and homogenization. Ultrasonic lab homogenizers are compact and a reliable tool for the efficient and rapid dispersing and emulsifying of small and medium samples. Hielscher’s industrial ultrasonic homogenizers are efficacious and outperform traditional homogenization techniques such as high pressure homogenizers or bead mills. Hielscher industrial homogenizers can deliver very high amplitudes and are thereby exceptionally powerful when it comes to mixing, dispersing and milling processes. Amplitudes of up to 200µm can be easily continuously run in 24/7 operation. For even higher amplitudes, customized ultrasonic sonotrodes are available. The robustness of Hielscher’s ultrasonic equipment allows for 24/7 operation at heavy duty and in demanding environments.
Our customers are satisfied by the outstanding robustness and reliability of Hielscher Ultrasonicshomogenizers. The installation in fields of heavy-duty application, demanding environments and 24/7 operation ensure efficient and economical processing. Ultrasonic process intensification reduces processing time and achieves better results, i.e. higher quality, higher yields, innovative products.

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Ultrasonic Tissue Homogenizers

Ultrasonic dismembrators are used as reliable and efficient tools to prepare emulsions, dispersions and cell extracts (lysates).Besides the preparation of dispersions and emulsions, ultrasonic homogenizers are firmly established in biotechnology, cellular and molecular biology, and life science for cell lysis and fractionation, tissue disruption, the extraction of intracellular compounds as well as the shearing of DNA, RNA, and chromatin. Ultrasonic homogenizers are available for sample preparation of tiny volumes (0,1mL) up to very large volumes for industrial processes (e.g. extraction of bioactive compounds for supplement manufacturing).
In order to disrupt tissue with an ultrasonic homogenizer, an isotonic buffer solution is used to stop osmotic damage. Hielscher ultrasonic homogenizers come with a temperature sensor and temperature control setting, which allow to keep the samples in a well-controlled temperature range.
For more details on ultrasonic tissue homogenizers, click here!



Literature / References

Ultrasonic homogenizers installed as cluster of 7x UIP1000hdT (7x 1kW)

7 ultrasonic homogenizers UIP1000hdT (7x 1kW ultrasonic power) installed as cluster

Facts Worth Knowing

Applications of Ultrasonic Probe-Type Homogenizers

The field of applications, where ultrasonic probe homogenizers are successfully used, covers manifold processes in various industries. the most prominent applications of ultrasonicators include the preparation of suspensions, dispersions and emulsions, wet-milling of micron- and nano-particles, dissolving powders and tablets, production of extracts from botanicals, cell lysis, the extraction and subsequent shearing of DNA, RNA and chromatin, protein extraction, the encapsulation of APIs in liposomes, and sonochemical reactions, where powerful ultrasound waves are used to initiate and accelerate rections (sono-catalysis, sono-synthesis), to increase mass transfer and to switch reaction pathways.


High performance ultrasonics! Hielscher's product range covers the full spectrum from the compact lab ultrasonicator over bench-top units to full-industrial ultrasonic systems.

Hielscher Ultrasonics manufactures high-performance ultrasonic homogenizers from lab to industrial size.

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