Mixing and blending processes are present in manufacturing lines across modern industry. The sheer range of varying mixing needs makes finding the optimal mixing solution a challenge. Any minor miscalculation in mixing performance could leave a noticeable effect on a production line’s end product.
Unoptimized mixing or blending process may lead to higher energy use and overarching operating cost. A poorly functioning mixing process can cause extended mixing times which can lead to a slowed process, decreased outputs, increased energy consumption and a higher cost of operation.
SPX FLOW is a global leader in the research and development of energy-saving industrial solutions and custom process design. SPX FLOW application engineers develop customized mixing and blending solutions to the specific process needs of a customer. Our custom process solutions are optimal industrial mixing technologies constructed to fulfill process needs and reduce operating cost through a mix of efficient design and aftermarket services.
SPX FLOW process engineers first analyze the mixing process needed for a customer’s production line for a high-level view. Understanding the applications needs, and the general mixing mechanisms of the process is vital to defining the range of the industrial mixing solution.
The type, speed and design of an industrial mixer is highly reliant on the input phases of the solutes and solvents. Each type of input from, liquid–liquid, liquid-solid, solid suspension, solid-solid, liquid–gas, solid-gas and multiphase mixing all have their own intricacies.
Liquid-solid mixing often requires the deconstruction of agglomerated solids, by suspending particles in the mixture then destabilizing bulks of solid material. An example of this process occurs in the mixing of concrete, where solutes, cement and sand, are mixed with the solvent and water to create a malleable yet self-hardening product.
The suspension of solids within an industrial mixing process improves the rate of mass transfer within the solution. Axial-flow impellers are typically suggested for solid suspension, especially when the solid is denser than the liquid within the solution. However, radial-flow impellers used in conjunction with baffled mixing tanks can function similarly. A tank with baffles will be able to rotate to convert the radial-flow impellers rotational motion into vertical motion to displace collected solids.
Solid suspension or solid to liquid mixing, often viewed as a high energy cost process, SPX FLOW industrial mixers can be designed to meet specified process needs. Large volumetric flow is recommended for solid suspension, however, high shear, high flow-number turbine impellers are not vital to the process. To reduce the energy cost of a solid suspension process, SPX FLOW engineers could design a multi-turbine mounted impeller shaft to efficiently reduce energy consumption.
SPX FLOW blending engineers have the extensive experience to develop, predict and scale a specific mixing behavior. Through a collective century of dry mixing experience, a global network of SPX FLOW testing centers and a depth of analytical technologies, SPX FLOW can design specialized dry mixing solutions. Modernly there is a range of industrial technologies used to improve product quality, fuse materials, wet, agglomerate and alter material properties to name a small few. The extensive blending applications require a high level of functional experience, knowledge and process understanding.
The complexity of dry mixing is largely based in the segregation, capacity and validation within the process itself. A continuous dry mixing process like mulling foundry molding sand, requires sand, water, clay and coal dust to be mixed into a moldable plastic product. Each input within the process must be added separately and only into mixtures that have been validated to contain the correct properties before mixing ensues.
The mixing of liquids and gases, or liquids to gasses is typically seeking a transfer of mass. The blending of gasses and liquids like the integration of oxygen into a liquid often benefits from extending the amount of the contact time the gas has with the liquid. Especially if the gas is costly, an intently designed process could reduce input cost and minimize waste. For example, the introducing gas into the mixture to maximize the exposure between the two, can minimize the gas needed to achieve the desired solution.
The mixing of gaseous reactants with particulate solids is reliant on several process factors. Primarily the density, size and shape of the solid particulate used in the solid-gas mixing process. These factors are directly related to the level of gas integration, and often the length of the mixing process. Another factor is the force in which the gas is being introduced. Often introduced using turbulent eddies, gases must have enough force to suspend the solid particles to facilitate an optimal mixing process.
Multiphase mixing describes a single process combining solids, liquids and gasses. Often occurring as a catalytic chemical process, like fermentation, where solid microbes and gasses must be dispersed through a liquid. SPX FLOW application engineers can design custom industrial mixing processes based on the solution and properties of its multiphased reaction. The unique properties of the chemical reaction could need a mixer designed for solid suspension or a range of other factors.
SPX FLOW designs both continuous and batch mixing solutions custom fit to the needs of the customer. Batch and continuous refer to the way the industrial mixer functions within the overarching process. Batch refers to the processing of “batches” or quantities of a solution at a time, then introducing a new “batch” after mixing the last. Continuous is a mixing process that is constantly blending a solution.
The need for an optimized mixing and blending process is leading the industry to a heightened level of detailed digital controls. Installed into the mixer at critical points, controls are used to monitor the performance of the mixer during operation.
Static mixers or inline mixers are mixing solutions designed with no moving parts. Carefully designed to blend through ribbon-like structures that are pushed by the flow of the solution. As a solution flows through the system the mixer is then forced to blend the solution. As an energy-efficient mixing solution, SPX FLOW has innovated the static mixer with highly efficient clean in place systems, to promote a more functional product.
Paddle mixers, similar to ribbon mixers, blend through a configuration of protruding blades on an axis. Can be used in dry mixing, wet mixing, slurry mixing, and high-velocity applications, due to the variability of the mixing blades themselves. SPX FLOW application engineers can optimize a paddle mixer to a client’s mixing needs to fit their processes.
A deep category of mixing solutions, drum mixers range from portable to contained mixers that are often used for low to medium viscosity mixing. Drum mixers are often utilized in mixing substances with highly variable particle sizes like fruit, ice cream or cement.
Homogenizers are vital to processes requiring the complete blending and breakdown of 2 liquids. SPX FLOW’s global network of innovation centers and testing labs integrate cutting edge homogenizers for customers to test. As end products are carefully crafted with various nuances like texture, flavor and consistency, testing the output of the homogenizer to ensure the production of high-quality outputs is paramount.
SPX FLOW agitators are designed custom to the specified needs of the customer's process. The SPX FLOW global mixing lab in Rochester, New York, features a 50-foot square basin for the testing agitators, surface aerators and other large scale mixing solutions. SPX FLOW application engineers design high-performance equipment through the testing and acute measurement of custom-designed applications.