Chemical Processing 101: Agglomerating

Chemical Processing 101: Agglomerating

What Is Agglomerating?

Agglomeration is the process of forming powdered and particle-based materials into a larger mass. Agglomerates are loosely held together by physical and chemical forces, depending on the method or process used for adhesion. This can be especially useful when it comes to converting raw materials into more useful forms, transform waste material into a marketable product, or compile hard-to-control materials into a more manageable form.

While agglomeration is often a chemical process that is sought out, it can occasionally be an unwanted chemical reaction to other factors i.e. powder products caking or lumping together, or individual sheets of agglomerates sticking to one another in shipping. There are several techniques and processes for manufacturing agglomerates that eliminate unwanted buildup and unintentional agglomeration, and at Howard Industries, we have the experience and capacity to fulfill all of your agglomerating needs!

What Is The Purpose of Agglomeration?

There are many uses for and benefits of agglomerating certain materials as a process of chemical manufacturing. Before agglomeration, the chemical processor will usually blend materials for the intended use. For example, some industries require bulk powders to be mixed and blended with other dry and/or liquid additives to create a specific formula before agglomeration. Industries require resulting materials to be molded into the desired shape. Through agglomeration, powders can be made into specific densities that allow them to dissolve at a controlled rate. You may have seen products that come in tablet form that have been through the agglomerating process, such as time release pills or cleaning tablets.

Additionally, many powder and particle-based materials are susceptible to caking, sticking, and dusting. All of these challenges can influence control over the material being used, as well as how the end product is affected by manufacturing. Agglomerating these materials allows manufacturers to gain more control over their powder and particle-based materials. Agglomeration can also make materials safer for people by eliminating and reducing dust in workspaces. Chemical particulates can be very dangerous and cause health problems to those who work around said powders. Agglomerating the material into larger, heavier particles can create a safer working environment for workers.

Waste material can also be converted into a marketable product via agglomeration. For example, wood chips and sawdust are mixed with adhesive and agglomerated into fiberboard, creating a marketable product. Agglomeration helps companies control their materials with more ease, keep workers safe, and increase their profit margins to the greatest degree possible.

What Tools Are Used For Agglomeration?

There are different processes for agglomerating particle-based materials, depending on the goal that needs to be accomplished. Pressure agglomeration allows manufacturers to use extreme pressure to compact powdered and particle-based materials into the desired shape. This allows the material to be made into tablets, molds, briquettes, etc.

Tumble growth agglomeration relies on a binding agent to bind the particles, rather than using pressure. You can use tumble growth agglomerating to create pellets or to condition materials to reduce dust and be more usable. This is how Nerds candy, Gobstoppers, and many other candies are made.

Finally, you can agglomerate materials through heating or sintering, which are chemical forces rather than physical forces. Heating and sintering materials are usually chosen to help shape materials with high melting points or to control the density of the material or product. Injection molding is a great example of this method. This is the process of melting small, plastic pellets and reforming them into a useful shape.

The types of equipment used for agglomerating include:

  • Compactors
  • Agglomeration Drums
  • Pug Mills
  • Rotary Drums
  • Briquettes
  • Disc pelletizer
  • Pin Mixer

How Can Howard Industries Fulfill Your Agglomerating Needs?

Howard Industries can help with any and all of your agglomerating needs! From granulating organic and inorganic compounds to mixing bulk powders with additives, Howard Industries is able to fulfill any project while also protecting the confidentiality of your formulas. Want to turn waste into dollars signs? Give us a call! We also offer coating services for your particle based chemicals through a variety of manufacturing techniques. Contact us today to learn more!