Dispersion Optimisation of a Solid Biomaterial in an Oil


Reducing the environmental impacts of petroleum-based products is a significant sustainability challenge. Bio-based alternatives are not always available, and integrating polar, solid biomaterials into non-polar liquids can be particularly difficult due to their inherent incompatibility. A PRA customer has investigated the incorporation of a solid, bio-based powder into an oil. The previously attempted dispersion methods did not provide the required stability, so PRA was tasked with improving this. At PRA, we have in-depth experience with dispersion chemistry and a range of specialised dispersion equipment to facilitate this work. Small particle sizes were preferred to increase stability, and 500 mL quantities of dispersions were requested for further testing. 

PRA Approach 

  • Potentially suitable dispersants for this system were selected, following a desk-based review exercise and Hansen Solubility Parameter calculations.  
  • The dispersants were screened for solubility and compatibility in the oil, as well as initial dispersion performance. The two most promising dispersants were identified for further testing.  
  • Dispersion trials were carried out using the variety of dispersion equipment available at PRA (including dual axis centrifuge mixers, blade mixers and bead mills), to assess the performance of the dispersants. 


The desired particle size was successfully achieved using the bead mill, for multiple biomaterial samples. Sufficient dispersion was not achieved using a blade mixer, so media milling was recommended in this case. A final dispersant recommendation was made to the customer, based on the results of the dispersion testing and the bio-based content of the dispersants. The chosen dispersant was then used to produce 500 mL scale dispersions, which were shipped back to the customer for further testing.

Contact [email protected] for more information on how PRA can help you improve your dispersion performance. 

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