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 projects or new product development. 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. 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 need to calculate a cost/benefit analysis of powerful but expensive binders versus less costly but less effective binders in the 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.