Interested in industrial mixing? Well, let me get you started in the right direction by helping you out with the lingo.
If you Google the term “industrial mixing” the first thing that pops up is something called The Handbook of Industrial Mixing (HOIM) If you search Bing, Mixer Direct is the first thing that comes up but that’s kind of like bragging about winning in the CFL. When I read “handbook,” I thought, “Oh, this is a small book which I could read and get a handle on this whole business.”
The book is 1377 pages, and most of the pictures are schematics, charts, or formulas. You have a better chance making your way through Mordor than making your way through this book. That’s OK because the book is a reference book and not meant to be read cover to cover. The only problem is that if you use it as a reference you read things like “Mixing is the reduction of inhomogeneity in order to achieve a desired process result” (xxxiv). This kind of stuff leaves me needing a dictionary to define the definition.
In order to save you from hours of searching for definitions and then a few more hours looking up the words in those definitions, we’ve put together the beginner’s guide of industrial mixing terminology using the Handbook.
Homogenous – alike (example: Smooth peanut butter is a homogeneous mixture).
Inhomogenous – diverse (example: Crunchy peanut butter is inhomogeneous).
Flow – how the material in your mixing container moves around the container.
Turbulent Flow – flow with chaotic property changes (think mixing a glass of tea with sugar).
Laminar Flow – flow that is streamlined (example: air going over the wing of an airplane).
Reynolds Number – a dimensionless number (a number that doesn’t have units like feet or pounds) that is used to predict flow patterns.
Pumping Rate – the measurement of the flow. Usually measured in gallons per minute.
Shear – breaking something down in order to be mixed. The higher the shear, the faster the breakdown. Usually inversely related to flow.
Impeller – a type of device on the end of the mixing shaft that engages with the mixture. The impeller pulls the mixture into the blades that then provide the force that moves or breaks down the mixture. Though this terms is technically different from a “propeller” folks in the mixing industry tend to use the terms interchangeably.
Propeller – a type of device on the end of the mixing shaft that engages with the mixture. When people in the industry talk propellers, they usually are referring to a specific look of a turbine, not the technical function. In other words, they want something that looks like a boat propeller but that actually functions like an impeller.
Dispersion Blade – a type of device on the end of the mixing shaft that engages with the mixture. The primary purpose of a dispersion blade is to break the mixture down, not to move the mixture around the tank.
Power Number - a constant number for each type of impeller that gives you the amount of energy that specific impeller requires.
Solid Suspension – suspending particles of solids in liquid during mixing (example: sugar in iced tea is in solid suspension until it gets mixed).
Settling Rate – The rate at which the particles that got kicked up into the fluid settle.
Now there are certainly a good amount of other terms that you’ll need to know to talk industrial mixing like a pro, but these few will get you started. If you want to start getting into the basic concepts of industrial mixing, you should check out our Mixer Basics articles. Or if you have any questions pertaining to your specific mixing needs you can contact one of sales engineers.