Você está na página 1de 20

CENTRIFUGES

AUTHOR:
BITNI NEHA JABEEN
Centrifuges achieve separation by means of the accelerated gravitational force achieved
by a rapid rotation. This can either replace normal gravity in the sedimentation of
suspension or provide the driving force in the filtration through a filter medium of some
kind.
The most common application is separation of solid substances from high concentrated
suspensions. Used in this way for the treatment of sewage sludge it enables the
dewatering with the production of more or less consistent sediment depending on the
nature of the sludge to be treated, and the accelerated thickening of low concentration
sludge.
Principle
The separation is similar in principle to that achieved in a gravity separation process. The
driving force is higher because is resulting from the rotation of the liquid: in the case of
sedimentation, where the driving force is resulting from the difference in density between
the solids particles and the liquid, the separation is achieved with a force from 1000 to
20000 times that of gravity.
Types
Most centrifuges rotate thanks to some kind of motor drive. The types of centrifuge
used for sedimentation include:
• hydrocyclone
• tubular bowl
• chamber bowl
• imperforate basket
• disk stack separator
• decanter
Sedimenting centrifuges were invented for liquid solid separation and not for handling
solids. It soon became apparent that these machines had wider applications, which would
involve the presence of solid impurities, leading to use for separating solids from liquids.
Hydrocyclone
The simplest device to use centrifugal force to achieve separation is the hydrocyclone. It
not really a centrifuge: the centrifugal separation is produced by the motion of the slurry,
induced by the tangential introduction of the feed material. Its principle of operation is
based on the concept of the terminal settling velocity of a solid particle in a centrifugal
field. The following picture describes the conditions in an operating hydrocyclone.
The feed enters tangentially into the cylindrical section of the
hydrocyclone and follows a circulating path with a net inward flow of fluid from the
outside to the vortex finder on the axis. The centrifugal field generated by the high
circulating velocities creates an air core on the axis that usually extends on the spigot
opening at the bottom of the conical section through the vortex finder to the overflow at
the top. In order for this to occur the centrifugal force field must be several times larger
than the gravitational one. Particles that experience this centrifugal field will tend to
move outwards relative to the carrier fluid because of their relatively greater density. The
larger, heavier particles will migrate rapidly to the outside walls of the cylindrical section
and will then be forced to move downward to the inside of the conical wall. Small

1
particles will, on the other hand, be dragged inward by the fluid as it moves towards the
vortex finder. The solid separation occurs in the passage of the suspension along the
barrel of the hydrocyclone, to form thickened slurry at the outer wall, which than leaves
the hydrocyclone as a continuous stream from its discharge nozzle.

Tubular bowl centrifuge

2
The tubular bowl centrifuge has been used for longer than most other designs of
centrifuge. It is based on a very simple geometry: it is formed by a tube, of length several
times its diameter, rotating between bearings at each end. The process stream enters at the
bottom of the centrifuge and high centrifugal forces act to separate out the solids. The
bulk of the solids will adhere on the walls of the bowl, while the liquid phase exits at the
top of the centrifuge.

As this type of system lacks a provision of solids rejection, the solids can only be
removed by stopping the machine, dismantling it and scraping or flushing the solids out
manually.

Tubular bowl centrifuges have dewatering capacity, but limited solids capacity. Foaming
can be a problem unless the system includes special skimming or centripetal pumps.

Chamber bowl centrifuge


The chamber bowl centrifuge is a number of tubular bowl arranged co-axially. It has a
main bowl containing cylindrical inserts that dived the volume of the bowl into a series of
annular chambers, which operate in series. Feed enters the center of the bowl and the
suspension passes through each chamber in turn, at increasing distances from the axis.
The solids settle onto the outer wall of each chamber and the clarified liquid emerges as
an overflow from the largest diameter chamber. This device provides also a classification
of the suspended solids: the coarse particles deposit in the inner chamber and the
increasingly fine particle deposit on the subsequent chambers. The removal of
sedimented solids requires the stopping of rotation for manual cleaning.

3
Disk stack separator
The simplest design is a closed bowl, containing the disk stack, with any solids present
collecting at the outer part of the bowl, from which they have to be removed manually
after stopping rotation. The solids are discharged from the bowl by a number of methods,
including the basic use of nozzles, which are open continuously, allowing a thick slurry
to discharge. In the more complicated design valved nozzles open automatically when the
solid depth in the bowl reaches a certain value, and then close again when most of the
solids have been discharged. In the most complicated design the bowl is opened: its shell
splits circumferentially for a short period, with the opening also controlled by solids
depth in the bowl.

Imperforate basket centrifuge


1. The imperforate basket centrifuge is used when if the solid content of the suspension is
higher. It consists of a simple drum-shaped basket or bowl, usually rotating around a
vertical axis. The solids accumulate and compress as effect of the centrifugal force, but
they are not dewatered. The residual liquid is drained out when the rotation of the bowl is
stopped. The layer of solids is removed manually by scraping or shoveling. Unloading
can be achieved semi automatically first by use of a skimmer pipe to remove the residual
liquid and then by lowering a knife blade into the solid and so cutting it out from the
bowl. This allows avoiding the switching off of the machine.

4
2. The imperforate basket centrifuge is a semi-continuous feeding and solids discharging
unit that rotates about a vertical axis. A schematic diagram of a basket centrifuge in the
sludge feed and sludge plowing cycles is shown in figure given below. Sludge is fed into
the bottom of the basket and sludge solids form a cake on the bowl walls as the unit
rotates. The liquid (centrate) is displaced over a baffle or weir at the top of the unit.
Sludge feed is either continued for a preset time or until the suspended solids in the
centrate reach a preset concentration. The ability to be used either for thickening or
dewatering is an advantage of the basket centrifuge. A basket centrifuge will typically
dewater a 50:50 blend of anaerobically digested primary and waste activated sludge to
10-15 percent solids.

5
( a ) Process Description : After sludge feeding is stopped, the centrifuge begins to
decelerate and a special skimmer nozzle moves into position to skim the relatively soft
and low solids concentration sludge on the inner periphery of the sludge mass. These
skimmings are typically returned to the plant headworks or the digesters. After the
skimming operation, the centrifuge slows further; to about 70 revolutions per minute, and
a plowing knife moves into position to cut the sludge away from the walls; the sludge
cake then drops through the open bottom of the basket. After plowing terminates, the
centrifuge begins to accelerate and feed sludge is again introduced. At no time does the
centrifuge actually stop rotating.

( b ) Application : The cake solids concentration produced by the basket machine is


typically not as dry as that achieved by the solid bowl centrifuge. However, the basket
centrifuge is especially suitable for dewatering biological or fine solids sludges that are
difficult to dewater, for dewatering sludges where the nature of the solids varies widely,
and for sludges containing significant grit. The basket centrifuge is most commonly used
for thickening waste activated sludge. A basket centrifuge can be a good application in
small plants with capacities in the range of 1 to 2 million gallons per day where
thickening is required before or after stabilization or where dewatering to 10 to 12
percent solids is adequate. The basket centrifuge is sometimes used in larger plants.
Advantages and disadvantages of a imperforate basket centrifuge compared to
other dewatering processes are presented in table given below:

6
( d ) Design Shortcomings : Common design shortcomings experienced in basket
centrifuge installations and their solutions are presented in table given below.

7
Decanter
The decanter centrifuge is the only sedimentation centrifuge designed from the start to
handle significant solid concentration in the feed suspension. At the same time it can
achieve quite good degrees of clarification of the liquid concentrate. Although a
complicated piece of machinery it embodies a simple principle. They consist basically of
a horizontal cylindrical bowl (1) rotating at a high speed, with a helical extraction screw
(2) placed coaxially. The screw perfectly fits the internal contour of the bowl, only
allowing clearance between the bowl and the scroll. The differential speed between screw
and scroll provides the conveying motion to collect and remove the solids, which
accumulate at the bowl wall.

1. Cylindroconical bowl 2. Helical extraction screw (scroll)


3. Feed 4. Distributor 5. Ring space
6. Settled product 7. Liquid level 8. Drying zone
9. Clarified liquid 10. Adjustable tresholds

The product to be treated (3) is introduced axially into the unit by appropriate distributor
(4). It is propelled into the ring space (5) formed by the internal surface of the bowl and
the body of the scroll. The separation process basically takes place inside the cylindrical
section of the bowl. The relative velocity of the scroll pushes the settled product (6) along
into the bowl. The conveyance of the solids into the length of the cone enables the
sediment to pass out of the clarified liquid phase. As the feed is continuous a liquid level
(7) is established in the unit following a cylindrical surface that constitute the internal
surface of the liquid ring. Once the solids have passed out of the liquid ring the remaining
section of the cone all the way up to the ejector provide the final draining: this section is
known as the drying zone (8). The clarified liquid (9) is collected at the other end of the
bowl by flowing through the adjustable threshold (10), which restrict the liquid ring of
the unit. A cover that enables the clarified liquid as well as the sediments to be collected
protects the rotor.

The decanter operates mainly by sedimentation a process causing the separation of


suspended solids by virtue of their higher density than the liquid in which they are
suspended. If the density difference is high than gravity may provide sufficient driving
force for the separation to occur in a reasonable time. If the density difference is small, or
the particle size is very small, than gravity separation would take too long and the
separation force must be increased by the imposition of centrifugal forces many times
that of gravity alone.

8
Advantages
The prime beneficial characteristic of the decanter is its ability to remove separated solids
from the separation zone on a fully continuous basis.
By comparison with:
• Gravity sedimentation: the decanter can achieve separations that would be very
difficult in a clarifier or lamella separator, and it produces drier solids.
• Hydrocyclones: the decanter has a much higher liquid capacity, can handle much
higher slurry concentrations, and producer much drier solids.
• Tubular bowl centrifuges: the decanter offers higher capacities, the ability to
handle concentrate slurries, and continuous operation.
• Imperforate basket centrifuges: the decanter operates continuously, can handle
much higher solids concentrations, and produces much drier solids.
• Disk stack centrifuge: the decanter is truly continuous in operation, can handle
much higher solids concentrations in the feed slurry and produces drier solids.
The advantages of the decanter are its wide range of potential use, coupled with its
continuous operation, its ability to accept a wide range of feed concentrations, and its
availability in a wide range of feed capacities.
Applications
The decanter centrifuge can be used for most types of liquid/solid separation. It can be
used for the classification of solids in liquid suspension or for the clarification of liquids.
It can also be used in the recovery of a valuable solid from its suspension in the liquid
and it can wash the recovered solid from its mother liquor. The decanter can also dewater
slurries to a high level of dryness and it can finally be operated so as to act as a thickener,
producing clear liquid and more concentrated slurry.

Solid Bowl Centrifuge


Solid bowl centrifuge technology has greatly advanced in the past five to six years, as
both the conveyor life and machine performance have been improved. At many treatment
plants in the U.S., older solid bowl centrifuge installations have required very high
maintenance expense due to rapid wear of the conveyor and reduced performance.
Recently the use of replaceable ceramic tile in low-G centrifuges (<1, 100 Gs) and
sintered tungsten carbide tile in high-G centrifuges (>1, 100 Gs) have greatly increased
the operating life prior to overhaul. In addition, several centrifuge manufacturers also
offer stainless steel construction in contrast to carbon-steel construction, and claim use of
this material results in less wear and vibration caused by corrosion. Revised bowl
configurations and the use of new automatic backdrives and eddy current brakes have
resulted in improved reliability and process control, with a resultant improvement in
dewatering performance. Also in recent years, several centrifuge manufacturers have
reduced the recommended throughput of their machines in direct response to competition
from the belt filter press. This has allowed for an increase in solids residence time in the
centrifuge and subsequent improvement in cake dryness.

( a ) Physical Description : As opposed to the semi-continuous feed/discharge cycles of


the imperforate basket centrifuge, the solid bowl centrifuge (also called decanter or scroll
centrifuge) is a continuously operating unit. This centrifuge, shown in figure given

9
below, consists of a rotating, horizontal, cylindrical bowl containing a screw-type
conveyor or scroll which rotates also, but at a slightly lower or higher speed than the
bowl. The differential speed is the difference in revolutions per minute (rpm) between the
bowl and the conveyor. The conveying of solids requires that the screw conveyor rotate
at a different speed than the bowl. The rotating bowl, or shell, is supported between two
sets of bearings; and at one end, necks down to a conical section that acts as a dewatering
beach or drainage deck for the screw-type conveyor. Sludge enters the rotating bowl
through a stationary feed pipe extending into the hollow shaft of the rotating conveyor
and is distributed through ports in this hollow shaft into a pool within the rotating bowl.

( b ) Countercurrent Centrifuge : The centrifuge illustrated in figure given above


operates in the countercurrent mode. Influent sludge is added through the feed pipe;
under centrifugal force, sludge solids settle through the liquid to the bowl wall because
their density is greater than that of the liquid. The solids are then moved gradually by the
rotating conveyor from left to right across the bowl, up the dewatering beach to outlet
ports and from there drop downward into a sludge cake discharge hopper. As the settled
sludge solids move from left to right through the bowl toward the sludge cake outlet,
progressively finer solids are settled centrifugally to the rotating bowl wall. The water or
centrate drains from the solids on the dewatering beach and back into the pool. Centrate
is actually moved from the end of the feed pipe to the left, and is discharged from the
bowl through ports on the left end, which is the opposite end of the centrifuge from the
dewatering beach. The loca-tion of the centrate removal ports is adjustable and their
location establishes the depth of the pool in the bowl.

( c ) Concurrent Centrifuge : A second variation of the solid bowl centrifuge is the


concurrent model shown in figure given below. In this unit, liquid sludge is introduced at
the far end of the bowl from the dewatering beach, and sludge solids and liquid flow in
the same direction. General construction is similar to the countercurrent design except
that the centrate does not flow in a different direction than the sludge solids. Instead, the
centrate is withdrawn by a skimming device or return tube located near the junction of

10
the bowl and the beach. Clarified centrate then flows into channels inside the scroll hub
and returns to the feed end of the machine where it is discharged over adjustable weir
plates through discharge ports built into the bowl head.

( d ) Differential Speed Control : A relatively new development in solid-bowl decanter


centrifuges is the use of a backdrive to control the speed differential between the scroll
and the bowl. The objective of the backdrive is to control the differential to give the
optimum solids residence time in the centrifuge and thereby produce the optimum cake
solids content. a backdrive of some type is considered essential when dewatering
secondary sludges because of the fine particles present. The backdrive function can be
accomplished with a hydraulic pump system, an eddy current brake, direct current
variable speed motor or a Reeves-type variable speed motor. The two most common
backdrive systems are the hydraulic backdrive and the eddy current brake.

( e ) Installation : Most centrifuge installations have the centrifuge mounted a few feet
above the floor and use a belt conveyor to move dewatered cake away. Other methods of
installing a solid bowl centrifuge are to put the centrifuge on the second floor of a two-
story building and drop the dewatered cake into either trucks or a storage hopper on the
first level; to mount the centrifuge about a foot off the floor and to drop cake onto a screw
conveyor built into the floor; or to let the centrifuge cake drop into an open-throated,
progressive cavity-type pump for transfer of the cake to a truck, incinerator or storage.

( f ) Advantages and Disadvantages : Some of the advantages and disadvantages of a


solid-bowl decanter centrifuge compared with other dewatering processes are presented
in table given below. The ability to be used for thickening or dewatering provides
flexibility and is a major advantage of solid bowl centrifuges. For example, a centrifuge
can be used to thicken ahead of a filter press, reducing chemical usage and increasing
solids throughput. During periods of downtime of the filter press, the solid bowl
centrifuge can serve as an alternate dewatering device. Another advantage of the solid
bowl centrifuge for larger plants is the availability of equipment with the largest sludge
throughput capability for single units of any type of dewatering equipment. The larger
centrifuges are capable of handling 300 to 700 gallons per minute per unit, depending on
the sludge's characteristics. The centrifuge also has the ability to handle higher-than-
design loadings, such as a temporary increase in hydraulic loading or solids

11
concentration, and the percent solids recovery can usually be maintained with the
addition of more polymer (while the cake solids concentration will drop slightly, the
centrifuge will stay online). Solid bowl centrifuges are typically capable of dewatering a
50:50 mixture of anaerobically digested primary and secondary sludges to a 15-21
percent solids concentration. Table given below lists common design shortcomings and
their solutions.

Filter Presses:
The plate-and-frame press is a batch device that has been used to process difficult to
dewater sludges. Recent improvements in the degree of automation, filter media and unit
capacities have led to renewed interest in pressure filtration for application to municipal-
type sludges. The ability to produce a very dry cake and clear filtrate are major points in
favor of pressure filtration, but they have higher capital and operating costs than vacuum
filters. Their use in preference to vacuum filters will be acceptable providing they can be
economically justified. Figure given below illustrates a cross-section of a filter press.

12
( a ) Control : Control of filter presses may be manual, semi-automatic, or full automatic.
Labor requirements for operation will vary dramatically depending on the degree of
instrumentation utilized for control. In spite of automation, operator attention is often
needed during the dump cycle to insure complete separation of the solids from the media
of the filter press. Process yields can typically be increased 10 to 30 percent by carefully
controlling the optimum cycle time with a microprocessor. This is important since the
capital costs for filter presses are very high.

( b ) Advantages and Disadvantages : Table given below presents the principal


advantages and disadvantages of filter presses compared to other dewatering processes.
Common design shortcomings associated with filter press installations are listed in table
given below along with solutions for these shortcomings. The fixed volume, recessed
plate filter press will typically dewater a 50:50 blend of digested primary and waste
activated sludge to between 35-42 percent solids, while a diaphragm press will produce a
38-47 percent solids cake on the same sludge. These cake solids concentrations include
large amounts of inorganic conditioning chemicals.

13
The unit operations form the fundamental principles of chemical engineering.
Chemical engineering unit operations consist of five classes:
1. Fluid flow processes, including fluids transportation, filtration, solids fluidization
2. Heat transfer processes, including evaporation, condensation
3. Mass transfer processes, including gas absorption, distillation, extraction,
adsorption, drying
4. Thermodynamic processes, including gas liquefaction, refrigeration

14
5. Mechanical processes, including solids transportation, crushing and pulverization,
screening and sieving

Chemical engineering unit operations also fall in the following categories:


1. Combination (mixing)
2. Separation (distillation)
3. Reaction (chemical reaction)
………………………………………………………………………………………………

Flash (or partial) evaporation is the partial vapor that occurs when a
saturated liquid stream undergoes a reduction in pressure by passing through a throttling
valve or other throttling device. This process is one of the simplest unit operations. If the
throttling valve or device is located at the entry into a pressure vessel so that the flash
evaporation occurs within the vessel, then the vessel is often referred to as a flash drum.

If the saturated liquid is a single-component liquid (for example, liquid propane or liquid
ammonia), a part of the liquid immediately "flashes" into vapor. Both the vapor and the
residual liquid are cooled to the saturation temperature of the liquid at the reduced
pressure. This is often referred to as "auto-refrigeration" and is the basis of most
conventional vapor compression refrigeration systems.

If the saturated liquid is a multi-component liquid (for example, a mixture of propane,


isobutane and normal butane), the flashed vapor is richer in the more volatile components
than is the remaining liquid.

Uncontrolled flash evaporation can result in a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion,
BLEVE.

15
Flash evaporation of a single-component liquid
The flash evaporation of a single-component liquid is an isenthalpic (i.e., constant
enthalpy) process and is often referred to as an adiabatic flash. The following equation,
derived from a simple heat balance around the throttling valve or device, is used to
predict how much of a single-component liquid is vaporized.
X = 100 ( HuL – HdL ) ÷ ( HdV – HdL )
where: X = weight percent vaporized
HuL = upstream liquid enthalpy at upstream temperature and pressure, J/kg
HdV = flashed vapor enthalpy at downstream pressure and corresponding saturation
temperature, J/kg
HdL = residual liquid enthalpy at downstream pressure and corresponding saturation
temperature, J/kg

If the enthalpy data required for the above equation is unavailable, then the following
equation may be used.
X = 100 · cp ( Tu – Td ) ÷ Hv
where:
X = weight percent vaporized
cp = liquid specific heat at upstream temperature and pressure, J/(kg °C)
Tu = upstream liquid temperature, °C
Td = liquid saturation temperature corresponding to the downstream pressure, °C
Hv = liquid heat of vaporization at downstream pressure and corresponding saturation
temperature, J/kg

( Note: The words "upstream" and "downstream" refer to before and after the liquid
passes through the throttling valve or device.)

This type of flash evaporation is used in the desalination of brackish water or ocean water
by "Multi-Stage Flash Distillation." The water is heated and then routed into a reduced-
pressure flash evaporation "stage" where some of the water flashes into steam. This steam
is subsequently condensed into salt-free water. The residual salty liquid from that first
stage is introduced into a second flash evaporation stage at a pressure lower than the first
stage pressure. More water is flashed into steam which is also subsequently condensed
into more salt-free water. This sequential use of multiple flash evaporation stages is
continued until the design objectives of the system are met. A large part of the world's
installed desalination capacity uses multi-stage flash distillation. Typically such plants
have 24 or more sequential stages of flash evaporation.

Equilibrium flash of a multi-component liquid


The equilibrium flash of a multi-component liquid may be visualized as a simple
distillation process using a single equilibrium stage. It is very different and more complex
than the flash evaporation of single-component liquid. For a multi-component liquid,
calculating the amounts of flashed vapor and residual liquid in equilibrium with each
other at a given temperature and pressure requires a trial-and-error iterative solution.
Such a calculation is commonly referred to as an equilibrium flash calculation. It involves
solving the Rachford-Rice equation:

16
where:
zi is the mole fraction of component i in the feed liquid (assumed to be known);
β is the fraction of feed that is vaporised;
Ki is the equilibrium constant of component i.

The equilibrium constants Ki are in general functions of many parameters, though the
most important is arguably temperature; they are defined as:

where: xi is the mole fraction of component i in liquid phase;


yi is the mole fraction of component i in gas phase.

Spray drying is a method of producing a dry powder from a liquid or slurry by


rapidly drying with a hot gas. This is the preferred method of drying of many thermally-
sensitive materials such as foods and pharmaceuticals. A consistent particle size
distribution is a reason for spray drying some industrial products such as catalysts. Air is
the heated drying media; however, if the liquid is a flammable solvent such as ethanol or
the product is oxygen-sensitive then nitrogen is used.

All spray dryers use some type of atomizer or spray nozzle to disperse the liquid or slurry
into a controlled drop size spray. The most common of these are rotary nozzles and
single-fluid pressure swirl nozzles. Alternatively, for some applications two-fluid or
ultrasonic nozzle are used. Depending on the process needs drop sizes from 10 to 500
micrometres can be achieved with the appropriate choices. The most common
applications are in the 100 to 200 micrometre diameter range. The dry powder is often
free-flowing.

The hot drying gas can be passed as a co-current or counter-current flow to the atomiser
direction. The co-current flow enables the particles to have a lower residence time within
the system and the particle separator (typically a cyclone device) operates more
efficiently. The counter-current flow method enables a greater residence time of the
particles in the chamber and usually is paired with a fluidised bed system.

Laboratory-scale spray dryer.


A=Solution or suspension to be dried in, B=Atomization gas in, 1= Drying gas in,
2=Heating of drying gas, 3=Spraying of solution or suspension, 4=Drying chamber,
5=Part between drying chamber and cyclone, 6=Cyclone, 7=Drying gas is taken away,
8=Collection vessel of product, arrows mean that this is co-current lab-spraydryer

17
Alternatives to spray dryers are:
Freeze dryer: a more-expensive batch process for products that degrade in spray drying.
Dry product is not free-flowing.
Drum dryer: a less-expensive continuous process for low-value products; creates flakes
instead of free-flowing powder.
Pulse combustion dryer: A less-expensive continuous process that can handle higher
viscosities and solids loading than a spray dryer, and that sometimes gives a freeze-dry
quality powder that is free-flowing.

Spray dryer
A spray dryer is a device used in spray drying. It takes a liquid stream and separates the
solute or suspension as a solid and the solvent into a vapor. The solid is usually collected
in a drum or cyclone. The liquid input stream is sprayed through a nozzle into a hot vapor
stream and vaporised. Solids form as moisture quickly leaves the droplets. A nozzle is
usually used to make the droplets as small as possible, maximising heat transfer and the
rate of water vaporisation. Droplet sizes can range from 20 to 180 μm depending on the
nozzle.

Spray dryers can dry a product very quickly compared to other methods of drying. They
also turn a solution, or slurry into a dried powder in a single step, which can be
advantageous for profit maximization and process simplification.

Spray dryers can dry a product very quickly compared to other methods of drying. They
also turn a solution, or slurry into a dried powder in a single step, which can be
advantageous for profit maximization and process simplification.

18
Micro-encapsulation
Spray drying often is used as an encapsulation technique by the food and other industries.
A substance to be encapsulated (the load) and an amphipathic carrier (usually some sort
of modified starch) are homogenized as a suspension in water (the slurry). The slurry is
then fed into a spray drier, usually a tower heated to temperatures well over the boiling
point of water.

As the slurry enters the tower, it is atomized. Partly because of the high surface tension of
water and partly because of the hydrophobic/hydrophilic interactions between the
amphipathic carrier, the water, and the load, the atomized slurry forms micelles. The
small size of the drops (averaging 100 micrometers in diameter) results in a relatively
large surface area which dries quickly. As the water dries, the carrier forms a hardened
shell around the load.

Load loss is usually a function of molecular weight. That is, lighter molecules tend to boil
off in larger quantities at the processing temperatures. Loss is minimized industrially by
spraying into taller towers. A larger volume of air has a lower average humidity as the
process proceeds. By the osmosis principle, water will be encouraged by its difference in
fugacities in the vapor and liquid phases to leave the micelles and enter the air. Therefore,
the same percentage of water can be dried out of the particles at lower temperatures if
larger towers are used. Alternatively, the slurry can be sprayed into a partial vacuum.
Since the boiling point of a solvent is the temperature at which the vapor pressure of the
solvent is equal to the ambient pressure, reducing pressure in the tower has the effect of
lowering the boiling point of the solvent.

The application of the spray drying encapsulation technique is to prepare "dehydrated"


powders of substances which do not have any water to dehydrate. For example, instant
drink mixes are spray dries of the various chemicals which make up the beverage. The
technique was once used to remove water from food products; for instance, in the
preparation of dehydrated milk. Because the milk was not being encapsulated and
because spray drying causes thermal degradation, milk dehydration and similar processes
have been replaced by other dehydration techniques. Skim milk powders are still widely
produced using spray drying technology around the world, typically at high solids
concentration for maximum drying efficiency. Thermal degradation of products can be
overcome by using lower operating temperatures and larger chamber sizes for increased
residence times.

Recent research is now suggesting that the use of spray-drying techniques may be an
alternative method for crystallization of amorphous powders during the drying process
since the temperature effects on the amorphous powders may be significant depending on
drying residence times.

19
Spray drying applications
Food: milk powder, coffee, tea, eggs, cereal, spices, flavorings

Pharmaceutical: antibiotics, medical ingredients, additives

Industrial: paint pigments, ceramic materials, catalyst supports

Nano spray dryer


The nano spray dryer offers new possibilities in the field of spray drying. It allows to
produce particles in the range of 300 nm to 5 μm with a narrow size distribution. High
yields are produced up to 90% and the minimal sample amount is 1 mL.

20