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‘Paradigm shift’ in mixing industry sees SPX commercialise cavitation technology

01-Dec-2011
Last updated the 01-Dec-2011 at 10:09 GMT

US machinery firm SPX Corp is commercialising patented cavitation mixing and dispersing technology for beverage and food sector use, and says it believes the equipment is unique within the marketplace.

The APV Cavitator (pictured) offers "breakthrough benefits" for heating liquids without scale build-up, the company said, and is exclusively licensed by SPX from Hydro Dynamics for sanitary applications.

The machine produces powerful shockwaves, SPX said, produced by the collapse of “controlled cavitation” bubbles, and works by taking a fluid into its machine housing, which is then passed through a controlled cavitation field created by the reactor’s spinning rotor.

‘Cavitation’ involves the formation and immediate implosion of cavities (bubbles) when a mechanical force is applied to a liquid, and SPX said the machine’s rotor produced millions of microscopic cavitation bubbles, which then collapsed and produced shockwaves.

Sanitary processing potential

SPX said that the technology could be used for a range of applications, ranging from pasteurisation to low-pressure homogenisation. Asked about application areas, an SPX spokeswoman told BeverageDaily.com:

“The Cavitator has promise for solving both food and beverage challenges. Mixing viscous liquids and slurries, heating heat-sensitive products without fouling, and blending powdered drink mixes are some of the applications where controlled cavitation has excelled.”

Since the machine had “unique benefits”, the spokeswoman added that SPX anticipated interest in the US, Europe and “all global markets where sanitary processing is performed”.

According to SPX, benefits include: improved process efficiencies (time, operating and/or capital costs); enhanced product quality, yield and raw material savings; extended run times due to scale-free heating; reduced downtime and a smaller footprint that traditional machines.

‘Intense’ cavitation force

Explaining in more detail how the APV Cavitator worked, SPX said it used the intense force of cavitation, “in a controlled manner, rather than using typical impellers or blades to process materials, increasing the mass transfer rate and producing results superior to those of many current mixing and heating technologies”.

Cavitation effects were achieved without damage to metal surfaces, the company added, and as such the machine, “can be considered a next-generation offering and a paradigm shift in the mixing industry, where process intensification, acceleration and the replacement of batch processing with continuous processing are necessary to compete in a global economy”.

Asked for more details about claimed mass transfer rate improvements and superiority vis-à-vis typical blade mixing solutions, the SPX spokeswoman said: “Conventional solutions typically use mechanical shear to accomplish results which can sometimes damage discrete particles, for example."

She added: “With the Cavitator, the agitation from the cavitation shockwaves can emulsify the liquid portion of a product without harming particles like onion pieces.”

SPX believed there was no other equipment on the market that “uses the same patented principles of controlled cavitation as the APV Cavitator,” the spokeswoman said.

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