The Microfluidizer® Principle: Superior Particle Size Reduction
Microfluidizer® high shear fluid processors are unique in their ability to achieve uniform particle size reduction, nanoemulsions and efficient cell disruption — enabling innovative companies to develop nano-enabled medicines, chemicals and consumer products that change the world.
How It Works
How does a high-pressure Microfluidizer® homogenizer/processor work? Product enters the system via the inlet reservoir and is forced into the interaction chamber at speeds up to 400 m/sec by a high-pressure pump. It is then effectively cooled, if required, and collected in the output reservoir. The exclusive Microfluidizer® fixed-geometry interaction chamber, the heart of our Microfluidization® technology, is combined with a constant pressure pumping system to produce unparalleled results.
Highest Shear Rates
As shown in the shear rate and particle size distribution charts below from Chemical Engineering, Microfluidizers® consistently generate significantly higher shear rates than other methods and more uniform particle size reduction. By precisely controlling the level of shear applied, customers are able to process shear-sensitive materials and high-pressure applications. More efficient reduction of particles to the nano level allows customers to use less energy to achieve particle size results that are, on average, half the size of even the most effective homogenizer outputs.
Uniform Particle Size Distribution
Creating tiny particles is one step. A crucial second factor, often overlooked by manufacturers of other particle size reduction equipment, is generating a uniform particle size distribution in the process. This is where Microfluidizer® technology has proven its value in thousands of customer applications over the years: producing the most narrow particle size distribution results possible. Naturally, this yields greater stability, longer shelf life, more efficient use of raw materials, and significant potential savings in the filter area.
Of course, achieving success in the lab is valuable only if it can be repeated reliably, regardless of scale. Microfluidizer® technology is further differentiated from other technologies in that not only are results repeatable from batch to batch, but also from lab environments to pilot and production volumes. This is achieved by aligning microchannels in parallel with the Microfluidizer® interaction chamber, with a single output reservoir. This ensures that the entire product stream experiences identical shear, resulting in consistent quality no matter the volume — from 1 ml (with the LV1 low volume lab machine) up to 60 liters per minute.
Microfluidizers® and High-Pressure Homogenizers: No Comparison
Because they are used to process similar applications — albeit with dramatically different results — Microfluidizers® are often associated with conventional homogenizers. In reality, the Microfluidizer® technology platform (highlighted by the fixed-geometry interaction chamber) generates a uniform shear field for particle size reduction and robust cell disruption, with repeatable and scalable results, that is not possible with even the most effective homogenizers. Advantages of the Microfluidizer® vs. conventional homogenizers include:
Smaller Particle Sizes
Microfluidizer® processors generate unrivaled shear that is orders of magnitude higher than homogenizers. This results in significantly smaller average particle sizes. A test was conducted to compare a Microfluidizer® and an Avestin homogenizer in liposome processing. Both pieces of equipment were operated at 30,000 psi. As shown in the chart below, the Microfluidizer® achieved more than 50% smaller particles at every pass.
|Avestin Homogenizer||Microfluidizer Processor|
|Pass 1||268 nm||113 nm|
|Pass 2||228 nm||95 nm|
|Pass 3||183 nm||72 nm|
Uniform Processing Pressure
Another key advantage of the Microfluidizer® processor is its ability to produce more uniform output vs. a homogenizer, as demonstrated in the liposome processing results (below). Homogenizers operated at peak pressures for mere moments (approximately 7%) of each cycle (see chart below), which leads to wider deviations, less stable products, and the need to run more passes or use higher pressures than should be required — potentially denaturing proteins during cell rupture and adding time, energy and cost to the production process. Conversely, Microfluidics technology generates consistent shear in order to produce reliable and repeatable results.
Customers Compare Microfluidizers® and Conventional Homogenizers
Customers who have upgraded to a Microfluidizer® routinely report the following observations about conventional homogenizers:
- Due to wide pressure variations, the machine must be monitored and adjusted constantly during operation
- Homogenizers often shut down due to an overdraw of current, even below maximum pressure
- They frequently plug up when attempting to process materials with high solid-load content
- Homogenizers are difficult to prime and the typical workaround is unsafe and damages the machine
- Proper startup requires five minutes, so startup is often bypassed, which shortens the life of machine components