Micronizers: Putting the Smallest Particles to Their Greatest Use
Just above the microscopic level of matter, there are many things around us just barely detectable by human sight that are part of the natural world. These are measured in microns. A micron is one-millionth of a meter, or 1/25,400th of an inch. To give you an idea of just how small that is, a strand of hair is about 100 to 150 micrometers wide. The smallest particles visible to the human eye is anything larger than fifty micrometers, which is the size of large specks of dust that collect around your house. In nature these small bits and pieces of life fit together to make the world work. But sometimes in the man-made world of manufactured things, these processes need a little help. This is where micronization comes in handy.
Optimal Chemical Bonding
In chemical engineering, sometimes particle sizes need to be changed to provide for optimum chemical bonding. Through micronization a chemical engineer can make a substance into very fine particles only a few microns in diameter. This is done on a machine known as a micronizer.It works by pulverizing particles down to the micron level. A micronizer is a single chamber machine with no moving parts that uses fluid energy of compressed air, gas, or superheated steam to grind particles into extremely small constituent parts. Under high-pressure, particles accelerate in high-speed rotation and grind against each other making them smaller and smaller. Centrifugal force holds larger particles in the grinding area until they are reduced in size. Then centripetal force drags the smaller particles where they exit. Once micronized these exceptionally small particles have greater properties of absorption and reactivity.
Innovation of Micronizers
Micronization is not a new technology. It was created in 1932 by Norwood Andrews, and the process he inventedis still used today. Norwood’s micronizer used superheated steam and compressed air as a source of energy to reduce materials. With five jets his machine pulverized minerals and other materials, reducing particles to as small as five microns. Andrews’ micronizer soon gained wide acceptance because other mills could not reach the five-micron threshold. A company was formed and continued to grow. But it was after World War II with the boom in commercial manufacturing that micronization technology accelerated. Pharmaceuticals was one of the first industries impacted with the discovery of penicillin. Soon micronization was used in other industries as well, including ceramics, metals, defense, and more. Today, jet mill micronizers are used to increase the efficiency of manufacturing pharmaceuticals, pigments, ceramics, agricultural chemicals, metals, performance materials, energy storage, food products, and government defense.