homogenizer

Difference between Ultrasonic and High Pressure Homogenizer.

The process of homogenization involves creating a stable emulsion via subdivision of particles that are used in further processing. Homogenizers are used for the subdivision of particles and can range from small sized handheld homogenizers to large or industrial sized homogenizers. Choosing the right homogenizer for your specific application can be demanding as you need to select the suitable mechanism, size and force to suit your application needs. We will discuss the difference between a Ultrasonic Homogenizer and a High Pressure Homogenizer in this article to help you choose the one that suits your application needs and requirements.

Ultrasonic Homogenizer

Ultrasonic Homogenizers are also known as  sonicators. An Ultrasonic Homogenizer is customizable for specific pressure ranges and amplitudes. It is ideal for manufacturers who are looking for complete control in the cavitation process (a process involving expansion and contraction of bubbles which break apart the surrounding particles). 
The homogenization process involves breaking and mixing of particles; in this sense, ultrasonic homogenizers have the upper hand as, during stimulation, they disrupt the molecular bonds and increase the total particle surface area. The greater total surface area allows better particle agglomeration and also improves overall stability.

Ultrasonic homogenizers are used in a variety of industries for different purposes like particle size reduction, extraction of biological material, and to lyse cells. They are used in industrial or laboratory settings, mostly with liquid samples. Ultrasonic homogenizers are ideal for samples that do not require cutting or grinding and aren’t degraded by heat.

Advantages:

Ultrasonic homogenizers have fewer wet and moving parts and thus have reduced frictional wear. They offer exact control over operational parameters and prove to be very efficient in the production of small particles. They provide a narrow distribution curve and can handle high solid concentrations. Ultrasonic homogenizers are also user friendly and safe to operate, while also being practical and energy-efficient.

Drawbacks:

Ultrasonic homogenizers can prove to be detrimental for samples that are sensitive to heat as they generate heat. Ultrasonic homogenizers also make loud hissing sounds. Lab technicians and operators who operate ultrasonic homogenizers are advised to take precautionary measures and wear personal protective equipment.

High-Pressure Homogenizer

High-pressure homogenization is perhaps the most common mechanism used for homogenization. The process involves pressing the liquid through a homogenizing valve at high pressure. While the fluid passes through the valve, it goes through a high-low pressure cycle. This mechanism is ideal for small, soft particles but has several limitations for hard and abrasive materials. Hard, abrasive materials cause wear as they pass through the pump. The life and the efficiency of the valve and the pump are reduced as a result of wear.

Advantages:

The constant and uninterrupted pressure during processing via high-pressure homogenizer eliminates the possibility of contamination and provides excellent and consistent results. High-pressure homogenization mechanism is capable of producing submicron particles which are very small in size.
A high-pressure homogenizer allows consistency in the composition of products with an increased rate of dissolution. The consistency is a result of even dispersion of active ingredients which can then be dispersed in a pill or syrup. The small and fine particles do not fall out of a solution, providing increased stability to the final product. A stable final product eliminates costs associated with a product recall.

Drawbacks:

High-pressure homogenizers are bulky, heavy and often cost over $10,000. Thus, they only make sense if you are processing large volumes. They are also difficult to clean to eliminate cross-contamination as the entire unit needs cleaning after every use. Please note that a liquid sample that contains a higher concentration of solid matter can potentially block valve openings of a high-pressure homogenizer.