Vincent Fleck proposes a simple but extremely smart vertical mixing system for the homogenisation of suspensions, mashes and slurries
Mixing means that something is turning around, isn’t it? If we’re talking about innovations in mixing, we could be discussing the new design of an agitator blade, for instance. However, there is a new solution hitting the market that will alter our entire view of what mixing is. The Flecks Mixer is a small, non-rotating disk with simple nozzles on it. It does not turn around; it simply moves up and down.
If we ask ’what makes good mixing?’ a number of answers are obvious. The ability to homogenise quickly, horizontally and vertically would be top of the list. Next, being able to suspend/dissolve well is another priority – along with preventing segregation/sedimentation. Other desirable features include: requiring little energy; be explosion-proof; and cause little shear force. It goes without saying that being robust and easy to integrate and maintain are non-negotiable in today’s market.
Flecks Mixer sets out to fulfil many of these wishes. It’s an interesting innovation that helps avoid the usual problems for an engineer: i.e. having high investment cost and high energy consumption, with insufficient or slow homogenisation, plus high shear force or unwanted oxygen intake.
How does the system work?
A stainless steel disk with 30% of the vessel’s diameter, equipped with nozzles, designed for each specific product - depending on consistency and viscosity - is mounted on top of the vessel. It moves up and down with the help of a linear drive, much like a pneumatic cylinder, creating ‘down-up-down‘ jet streams. It’s deceptively simple for something so smart, which achieves homogenisation within few movements.
It adapts to many mixing needs by virtue of its design and operational parameters. On the design side, parameters include: shape of mixing disk and jet nozzles; length of piston rod; number of systems mounted on top of a tank; and thrust/stroke force N. Operational parameters that enable flexibility include: SCADA/PLC/manually controlled; variable stroke length – adapting to product level /feeding of solids; strokes frequency – required speed of homogenisation; and piston speed – adapting to viscosity.
The company behind this new mixer is originally a manufacturer of brewery equipment. It makes mashtuns that contain water and are fed with malt grist, forming a thick suspension, a ‘mash‘. For quick heating of this mash in steps for enzymatic reaction, homogenising with this mixer is outstandingly effective. Another, very simple application, is preventing segregation in hot water tanks.
The practical results within the past two years of research, testing and commercialisation have been outstanding. Vessel sizes from small to big are applicable. Many a problem can be perfectly solved by combining conventional agitators or dispersers with a Flecks Mixer. The company’s own facility has, among others, a movable, sophisticated testing plant (300 litres) – which is also its smallest unit being sold.
The company manufactures and supplies complete, agitated tanks of 300-10,000 litres as well as mixer sets to be mounted on top of existing tanks. Industries using agitated vessels – requiring minor shear force, shorter mixing times, lower investment and operating cost – might take advantage from the new system. These span everything from the food sector to paper to chemicals.
For more information, visit www.engineeerlive.com/epe
Vincent Fleck is a biotechnologist and head of Flecks Mixer.