Binders are a key ingredient in agglomerating, granulating and pelletizing applications.  Considered an inactive ingredient, binders are critical in allowing for agglomeration and holding the structure of the pellets together.  Many of our customers are pleasantly surprised of how efficiently the Lancaster High Shear Counter-Current Mixer can pelletize utilizing low amounts of binders when compared to alternate methods of granulation.    The advantage lies in the Lancaster Mixer’s ability to rapidly homogenize tiny amounts of minor ingredients into large amounts of majors.  Because the binder is so efficiently dispersed throughout the mix, only the optimal amount of binder is used.  Less effective mixing techniques require more binder than in a Lancaster Mixer, because the binder is not as effectively dispersed throughout the mix.

There are two common ways  we work with our customers:

Process Improvement

Customers with an existing product looking to improve their process come to us with a pre-defined recipe or formula for pelletizing and work with us to optimize ingredients and mix times in our high shear counter current mixer.   In these cases, we know the baseline formulation and we are actively attempting to refine the recipe and improve the mixing & pelletizing process.  Examples of  improvement outcomes include faster mixing and pelletizing times, increased yields at specific size ranges and/or reduced binder and minor ingredient usage.

New Product Development

Other Customers have ‘active’ raw ingredients and a profitable idea, but rely on our mix engineers to help define their recipe.  In these cases, choosing the right binder is secondary to developing the optimal mix process and highest yields as the binder itself typically does not compromise the chemistry of the raw, active materials.  Most binders are inexpensive, benign, and are compatible in the high shear mixing process.  There is a long list of binders available,  they can be organic or inorganic with some of the more common binders being: water, glue, molasses, PVA (polyvinyl alcohol powder), lignosulfonate, bitumen, corn starch, sucrose, alumina silicate, and many more.

Ultimately, the choice of binder used in pelletizing applications is contingent upon the specifications for the end product and cost.  Some products require binders that have specific properties such as: burn off in a kiln for ceramic applications, non-toxic or edible requirements for animal feed, or the inability to alter the end product’s color for colorant. Often customers ask Lancaster Products to test multiple binders at various price points to calculate a cost/benefit analysis of powerful but expensive binders versus less costly but less effective binders in their end product.   The engineers at Lancaster Products draw from our extensive recipe development knowledge to suggest binder choices for every application.

              Contact our engineers today if you need assistance in formulating your ideal end product or to optimize your existing formulation.

717-273-2111

Lancaster Products
920 Mechanic Street
Lebanon, PA 17046

Local: 717.273.2111
Toll Free: 800.447.7351

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The Effect of Rotor Styles on High Shear Mixing

In addition to the rotating pan, all high shear mixers manufactured by Lancaster Products larger than a K3.5 have two independently motor driven mixing tools inside the pan which are responsible for proper mixing, pelletizing, and granulating of materials: the plow and the high speed rotor.  The plow continually sweeps the entire surface of the pan bottom to prevent material from accumulating on the bottom and enhances the overall mixing action.  However, the most important tool of all is the high-speed rotor, which rotates counter direction to the pan causing a shearing action inside of the mixing cavity.  This high-speed rotor not only agitates the mixture, but significantly influences the control of the entire process.  While there are just two main style of standard rotors, we can custom configure the rotor to optimize all mixing processes.

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Infographic: Optimize Your Fertilizer Pelletizing Process

Traditional processes for manufacturing fertilizer require many steps and different types of equipment. It is common for systems to include multiple dryers, a mill/pulverizer for size reduction of dried material, pin mixer/pug mill for mixing of additives and raw materials, a pelletizer and multiple conveyors to facilitate the process. If this seems like a complex process that requires high levels of work, energy and maintenance, we agree.

Lancaster Products engineers can optimize existing complex fertilizer pelleting processes or design new streamlined systems to help you realize multiple benefits, including a reduction in physical footprint and an improvement in the characteristics and reproducibility of your pelletized product. By utilizing a Lancaster Products K-Series High Shear Mixer to replace a mill and disc pelletizer, you not only reduce system complexity but also gain the ability to begin processing with raw materials at higher moisture levels. The counter-current mixing action in a Lancaster Mixer allows for one-step mixing and pelletizing with rapid mix times.

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