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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Full Scale Mix Recipe Optimization in Lancaster K4 Mixers

This is the third video in our lab and testing series. The Lancaster Products Lab is equipped with a production-sized K4 mixer to test and optimize mix recipes at full scale. In this video, we are testing a clay type of material for pelletization.

The K4 mixer introduces a third tool, the low-speed plow, which, along with the rotating pan, transports material to the high-speed rotor. You can see how the high shear counter-current movement creates a rolling action which agglomerates the materials into pellets. The K4 mixer has a bottom discharge; the plow allows for the rapid and complete evacuation of the mixing cavity. After the mixer is fully evacuated, the bottom discharge closes, and reseals ready for the next batch.

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Prototype Mix Recipe Optimization in Lancaster K3 Mixers

This is the second video in our lab and testing series. The Lancaster Products lab is equipped with a small production-sized K3 mixer to test and optimize mix recipes at a prototyping scale. In this video, we are testing a clay type of material for pelletization.

Looking inside of the mixing cavity, you see the counter-current mixing action. The pan rotates clockwise, and the high shear mixing tool spins counterclockwise. The mixing pan actively transports material to the primary mixing tool. Slowing the action down gives us a good view of how the Lancaster mixing action creates a tumbling that promotes agglomeration by rolling the particles much the same way as a snowball growing larger by rolling down a hill.

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