Mixers

Mixing is one of the important unit operation widely used from reaction to finishing stages in chemical industry. A production (chemical) engineer has to operate the running and modifications with the installed type for the particular process or recommend one in case of plant erection or process design. The selection or modification with these equipments is highly subject to the set of properties of material being handled. Mixers are meant to shift the nonhomogeneity of a batch to a homogenous state. The degree of success in this operation is never the hundred percent, since we can¶t assume that a molecule A will take the very next position to the molecule B and so on. Our auditing analysis is therefore subject to spot sampling methods that take concentrations at randomly selected locations in a sample in to consideration to estimate the overall mixing efficiency of the entire batch. Different mixers being employed follow three1 mixing phenomenon: the smallscale random motion (diffusion), the large-scale random motion (convection) and the interchange of particles by virtue of slip zones (shear). Mixers are employed both for solids and liquids phases with varied interests. These include be but not limited to blending of ingredients, cooling or heating purposes, drying or roasting of solids, reaction engineering, coatings, agglomeration or even size reduction. Confining our focus the mixing of solids, powders and particles, our selection is subject to a set of properties2 which include: particle size distribution, bulk density, true density, particle shape, surface characteristics, flow characteristics, friability, state of agglomeration, moisture or liquid content of solids, density, viscosity and surface tension, and temperature of ingredients. Referring our case to the nature of solid particles, we have two classifications to cater for: non1 2

Perry s Chemical Engineering Handbook, Solid-Solid Operations and Equipment, Section 19, pg. 12 Perry s Chemical Engineering Handbook, Solid-Solid Operations and Equipment, Section 19, pg. 10

cohesive solids and cohesive solids. Further is the discussion over the types of mixers for this classification.

For Non-Cohesive Solids
Mixers for non-sticky solids have a wide variety available for consideration. This may range from free-flowing powders¶ preferences to heavy pastes¶ options. Mixing could be carried3 out by agitation, tumbling, centrifugal action and impact forces. Following is a brief about the options for discussed type of solids:

Internal Screw Mixer
It consists of a vertical vessel with a screw rotating to achieve the circulation of material and secondly the elevation of material. This results in intermixing of solid grains as well as shear action to the ones in contact with the screw or the walls of container. The feed enters from bottom usually with aim to nullify the gravity factor which could escape the molecules without desired mixing. Two vessel shapes are normally used for this category, the cylindrical and the conical. On the basis of screw movement, it could further be classified4.

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McCabe Smith, Unit Operations of Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Separations, Vol 7, pg 979 Perry s Chemical Engineering Handbook, Solid-Solid Operations and Equipment, Section 19, pg. 15

Type I: Conical shaped vessel, with a screw orbiting the centre of axis of the vertical tank and also rotating around its own axis Type II: Conical shaped vessel, with a screw fixed at the centre and rotating around its own axis Type III: Cylindrical vessel with a screw in centre and rotating around its own axis Internal screw mixers are normally used for free-flowing grains and other light solids. In type II, the conical tank is such tapered that with increase in height the area swept increases.

Ribbon Mixer
Suitable for light and finely divided materials to fibrous sticky feed, ribbon mixer is operated in both batch and continuous orders. It consists of a horizontal vessel with two blades or ribbon in opposite directions with rotating at different speeds to intermix the feed batch. The operation size5 could be as large as 34m3 for heavy ribbon mixers. The size of ribbon widely affects the operational advantages. For example, broad ribbon can be used for lifting or conveying purposes, while a narrow ribbon can cut the materials. The type is further classified on construction parameters with differing features6 of ribbon cross section and pitch, clearances between outer ribbon and shell, and number of spirals etc.

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McCabe Smith, Unit Operations of Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Separations, Vol 7, pg 979 Perry s Chemical Engineering Handbook, Solid-Solid Operations and Equipment, Section 19, pg. 12

Tumbling Mixers
Tumbling mixers include mixers in which the vessel rotates, mixing the feed to optimum levels, similar to tumbling mill that aim for size reduction. The closed vessel rotating about its axis can handle heavy solids and dense slurries through diffusion mixing. The shapes could include5 and are not limited to V-mixer, double cone, rotating cube. The equipment main include internal sprays for addition of liquids to facilitate the mixing process. Baffles could also be installed in an attempt to reduce segregation. The retention time in a tumbling mixer is fixed since initial blending is rapid followed by gradual uniform mixing. Excess time may affect and even decrease the quality of mixing levels.

For Cohesive Solids
Cohesive solids employ maximum consideration in terms of mixer selection and operating parameters due to influence of rheology and forces of cohesion. The power consumption for this type of mixers is high due to these factors. Mixing of sticky solids however is supported7 by shearing, folding, stretching and compressing elements.

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McCabe Smith, Unit Operations of Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Separations, Vol 7, pg 980

Muller Mixers
Suitable for heavy solids and pastes, muller mixer applies smearing, rubbing and somewhat skidding action to achieve the desired mixing levels. Its working action is similar to that of mortar and pestle. It has several types, three most common include: Stationary-pan mixer, Rotating-pan mixer and Countercurrent-pan-muller mixer. The roller wheels move in a circular chamber to ride over the material, producing shearing action that causes size reduction as well as intermixing of material.

Change-can Mixer
Used for blending of viscous liquids & light pastes like food and paints, its most used types are pony and beater mixer. In pony mixer, the can rotates to produce centrifugal action to mix the materials, while in beater mixer, the agitator rotates to do the job. The vertical shaft contains blades and paddles which are slightly twisted. When the mixing is complete, agitator head is raised, lifting the blades out of can and the material can be drained by tilting it.

Kneader Mixers
It is used to mix deformable or plastic solids by squashing the mass flat, folding it over and squashing it once more7. It may tear the mass and shear it between the blades and walls of mixer. The power requirements for this type of mixers are relatively high, esp. in case of stiff materials. Examples (in order of power requirements) include: two-arm kneader, disperser, masticator (intensive mixers), banbury mixer (internal mixers), and continuous kneaders. The two-arm kneader with minimum power requirements handles suspensions, pastes and light plastic materials. A disperser with heavier construction body and more power consumption is suitable for additives and coloring agents into stiff materials. Masticator with maximum work capacity can work on scraping rubber and plastic materials. The body is heavier than disperser and consumes more power. In internal mixers, the chamber is sealed during the working time; making dispersions of feed in liquid usually water. Example of such a type is Banbury mixer, a heavy-duty two arm mixer in which the agitators are in form of interrupted spirals. The turning frequency is 30 to 40 rpm. Kneaders work both in batch and continuous operation with equipment parameters differing accordingly.

Paddle Mixers
These mixers are open air chambers with agitators scooping the materials and dropping them again to those chambers, thus achieving the mixing levels via relocation of material. The lifting action of blade is adjusted to the desired pace. This cross missing configuration provides a homogenously mixed product. The use is effective even in cases where bulk densities of component materials vary greatly. The design and bends of the paddles are precisely made to ensure shear mixing in addition to convective one.