In almost all areas of the bulk solids processing industry, powders are wetted with liquids. This process seems trivial. But sometimes the wetting results are not satisfying. Lumps may form, the liquid may not be homogeneously distributed, or the bulk material may subsequently have poor flow properties.
In addition to viscosity, the surface tension of the liquid has a major influence on its distributability in the powder. However, the properties of the powders also play an important role if the liquid distribution should be successful.
Typical appearances of various liquids:
1 to 4 particle system which is wetted during mixing.
5. particles with open and closed pores
the surface tension of a liquid is low (a), then the liquid wants to
spontaneously wet the solid surface. The capillaries (5) of a particle are then
also penetrated. The higher (b) the surface tension of a liquid is, the less
the liquid wants to penetrate the capillaries of the particles.
In dry condition (1), the powder is present as a solid-air dispersion. The cavities between the particles are irregular and constantly change during mixing. If a liquid is poured into the moving mix, then the air is displaced from the cavities. The liquid spreads as a thin liquid layer around each individual particle. This is the adsorption layer (1). The liquid adheres firmly and can only be removed thermally. If the liquid content increases during mixing, the liquid accumulates at the contact points of the particles in so-called bridges and (2) gussets. Thus, agglomeration (buil-up-granulation) begins. As the liquid content increases, larger cavities (3) between the solid particles are filled with liquid. When all capillaries formed by the particle system are filled with liquid, (4) saturation occurs. The bulk material becomes a suspension.
If the surface tension of the liquid is low and the affinity between liquid and solid is particularly high, then so-called flash absorption can take place. The available liquid is immediately absorbed by the solid. This often leads to unwanted agglomerates. But a prolonged mixing process can hardly improve the liquid distribution. In cases of high affinity between powder and liquid, liquid addition (as shown in Figure f) should be consistently slow, dosing and spraying during mixing. Spraying below the bulk level usually improves the self-cleaning of the mixer.
Indeed, today we can quickly and accurately analyze characteristics of liquids and also powders. Unfortunately, however, disperse systems of different powders are too complex to simulate their mixing or even their wetting. For the foreseeable future, the calculation effort will be much more expensive than the practical experiment.
In the amixon® Test Center, a wide variety of wetting processes are applied on an almost daily basis. We would be pleased to demonstrate these processes using your original products and to show you impressively how your wetted powders subsequently look and flow.