By Christine Banaszek
Mixing is one of the most ubiquitous unit operations in the processing world. And oftentimes, improvements specific to the mixing step lead to overall big rewards that translate well in the balance sheet. The usual challenges include maintaining batch-tobatch uniformity and optimizing blend times, but could be as simple, yet equally important, as improving cleanliness.
In a ribbon, paddle or vertical screw blender peration, sealing arrangements are key to keeping clean. The blender doesn’t necessarily have to be vacuum-rated, just dust-tight. Covers with Neoprene or Silicon gasket, clamps, vent ports with dust socks, dust-tight discharge valves, material handling system installed right at the blender’s discharge assembly – all these contribute to eliminating fugitive dust issues. In addition, auxiliary dust collection systems and solvent recovery systems (for drying operations) may be used in conjunction with blending equipment.
Hydraulically or pneumatically operated lids are a common option in many horizontal blenders. They can be designed to support a full pallet of raw materials and may be installed with quick-release charging ports that can be oriented to different angles and adjusted to accept ingredients from drums, bags, or other containers.
While ‘clean mixing’ can be its own reward, you are likely gain a whole lot more if you pursue to achieve it. It’s one quest that does not lack for pleasant surprises.