New York, NY, August 15, 2014 – Industrial Sonomechanics, LLC (ISM), a research and development, equipment design and process consulting firm specializing in high-intensity ultrasound for liquid processing, today announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued US Patent 8,651,230 covering major improvements in the company’s Barbell Horn Ultrasonic Technology (BHUT). The patent corresponds to an International Patent Application No.: PCT/US2008/068697 and is expected to soon be issued in Europe, the rest of North America, South America and Asia. The patent describes a novel and superior method of transmitting acoustic energy into liquid media during ultrasonic cavitation-mediated processes, such as crude oil desulfurization, the production of nanocrystals and nanoemulsions, pigment de-agglomeration and dispersion, the manufacture of emulsified and biological fuels, liquid degassing, waste water purification, plant oil extraction, cell disruption and many more. ISM’s BHUT-based high-intensity ultrasonic liquid processors are currently employed by pharmaceutical, cosmetic, chemical, waste water, food and beverage, ink, paint, coating, wood treatment, metalworking, nano-composite, pesticide, petroleum and alternative fuel, and other industries.
“This patent is an essential component of our intellectual property portfolio,” said ISM’s President, Alexey Peshkovsky, Ph.D. “It delivers a much-awaited breakthrough in the field of industrial-scale ultrasonic liquid processing, which is critical for a wide variety of applications”.
Liquids exposed to high-intensity ultrasound undergo acoustic cavitation, producing violent and asymmetrically imploding vacuum bubbles and causing micro-jets that create extreme mechanical shear forces. These forces are responsible for the well-known ability of ultrasound to facilitate many physical and chemical processes. Research shows that in most situations full advantage of this effect can be taken only when high ultrasonic vibration amplitudes (about 70 - 100 microns) can be produced, leading to the generation of acoustic cavitation of sufficient intensity. Such extreme conditions require the use of high-gain acoustic horns (also called sonotrodes, waveguide radiators and probes), which amplify vibration amplitudes of ultrasonic transducers and deliver the ultrasonic energy to the processed liquids.
Conventional ultrasonic systems comprise acoustic horns that reduce their diameters in the output direction and can only provide high ultrasonic amplitudes when their output tips are small. Process scale-up requires switching to horns with larger output tip diameters, able to output the ultrasonic energy into greater volumes of processed liquids while still maintaining high amplitudes. If, however, the output tip diameter of a conventional horn is increased, its maximum vibration amplitude becomes significantly lower and insufficient for most processes. The use of conventional high-amplitude ultrasonic processors is, therefore, limited to laboratory investigations that cannot be scaled-up without sacrificing the quality of the final product.
This fundamental limitation of conventional ultrasound has been successfully overcome by ISM’s Barbell Horn Ultrasonic Technology, which enables horn designs where amplitude amplification and output tip size are independent variables. Barbell Horns developed by ISM are able to provide extremely high ultrasonic amplitudes while retaining large output tip diameters. Commercial-scale ultrasonic systems that operate at high amplitudes can, therefore, be constructed, which opens up the possibility to directly scale up any high-amplitude ultrasonic process and bridge the gap between laboratory research and its industrial implementation.
“Our technology is free from scale-up limitations of conventional ultrasound, making it possible to implement laboratory accomplishments in the production environment”, said ISM’s Commercial Director, Jeffrey Meyer. “We are confident that ISM’s patent portfolio, combined with its know-how, will provide our products with long-term market exclusivity”.
The recently issued patent describes an ultrasonic liquid processor, equipped with a reactor chamber (flow cell) and a compatible Barbell Horn or its derivative, which provides significant processing intensification. The enhancement arises from the ability of the reactor chamber to direct all treated liquid through the highly active ultrasonic cavitation region located near the surface of the horn as well as from several improvements in the Barbell Horn design, which significantly increase its longevity, amplitude and output surface area.