Three Key Factors of a Good Emulsion

Explosive Emulsions play a significant role in daily activities in mining, quarrying and construction activities all over the world. While there are several types of emulsion explosives, ranging from method of manufacturing to ingredients in the formulation, a key common consideration is the choice of a good emulsifier. Specific field conditions dictate specific characteristics of these emulsions that drive efficiency and suitability of the product.

The most typical factors that determine the suitability of a good emulsion are:
  • Stability - in storage & transportation,
  • Speed/Ease of formation - method of manufacturing,
  • Overall cost of manufacture.

 The commonality that influences these three elements, and the one which quite literally makes or breaks an emulsion is of course the emulsifier used. While that seems somewhat obvious, the impact of using a good emulsifier cannot be understated.

The key factors that make a good emulsion explosive


Emulsion stability has significant impact on the ability to store in silos near the end use application as well as ability to transport over large distances without concerns on product degradation in transit. 

Additionally, such stability also aids in reliable sleep times when required, as in the case of larger shots, cast blasting etc.


Speed/Ease of formation

On a fundamental level, all emulsions are essentially a well put together combination of an oxidizer and a fuel phase.  Most commonly an aqueous phase and an oil phase.  However, factors such as field conditions, raw materials available, operating conditions, location, and such - makes this rather complex and has resulted in several different methods of producing the emulsion.  Certain conditions demand a high rate of production, with extremely low residence time of the product mix in the system, while some conditions demand a certain viscosity response, and a desired production rate.  All this means, one must have an emulsifier that meets these requirements and performs flawlessly in every condition.  A common way to address quick and easy emulsion formation has been the use of SMO (Sorbitan Mono Oleate) as a co-emulsifier.  However, recent turmoil in supply side of key raw materials have caused significant disruptions resulting in low availability and driven cost of such SMO upward.  Nelson Brothers has responded to this with the introduction of a novel PIBSA based co-emulsifier - NB5-2628 that offers a great alternative to SMO, delivering all the benefits of ease of formation while maintaining and enhancing the PIBSA like stability.


Overall cost

Recent global crisis in supply chain & logistics has heightened the need to focus on cost containment.   To this end, many emulsion producers are looking at ways to optimize costs, one of which is the utilization of used or recycled oil as a fuel phase.  This change while it manages the fuel costs, also introduces new challenges of emulsion formation and stability, which are both addressed very well by the newly introduced PIBSA based alternative to SMO, our NB5-2628. It is noteworthy to mention that we have been successful in producing good, stable emulsions at 100% used/recycled oil in the fuel phase.  Some users have also been successfully using varied amounts of used oils to optimize costs while maintaining excellent emulsion quality.


Nelson Brothers has collected substantial test data with this novel product and look for these in our next blogs.


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