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Disperse Difficult Solids

By Ken Langhorn and Christine Banaszek, Charles Ross & Son Company |

Despite the immense value and universal appeal of these additives for product designers, process engineers facing the day-to-day reality of full-scale production face a unique set of challenges. Dispersing these powdered additives into a liquid is one of the most formidable challenges in the chemical process industries (CPI). Although most can be dispersed fairly easily in a common laboratory mixer, when scaled-up for batch, semi-continuous or continuous production, it’s much more difficult, time-consuming and costly. Only a few years ago, in a less intensely competitive business environment, the long mix cycles devoted to dispersing these additives did not receive much attention. The fact that inefficient mixing often led to under-performance of additives, and therefore excessive loading to compensate, was also overlooked. Today, competitive pressures have amplified the importance of every possible improvement in process efficiency — especially those that might yield a significant competitive advantage. Because of the ubiquitous use of “hard-to-disperse” additives (Table 1) and the inefficiency of the old-fashioned mixing techniques generally used to disperse them, modern mixing techniques present an extraordinary…
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