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Project Brief

High-Efficiency Industrial Mixing Through Biomimetic Design

Develop significantly improved designs for industrial mixing equipment through an energy-minimizing design approach based on biomimetics, the emulation of energy-efficient forms found in nature.

Sponsor: PAX Scientific, Inc.

1615 5th Aveenue
San Rafael, CA 94901
  • Project Performance Period: 11/1/2007 - 12/31/2011
  • Total project (est.): $2,691,771.00
  • Requested ATP funds: $1,900,000.00

PAX Scientific has proposed developing significantly improved designs for industrial mixing equipment by copying the design tricks of nature, which long ago worked out how to handle the efficient movement of fluids. Mixing fluids is one of the most basic and most important of industrial processes. Industrial mixing plays a critical role in the manufacture of foods and beverages, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, consumer materials such as paper and plastics, and industrial materials such as mineral ore. Doing it correctly is not trivial; the energy used to run mixing equipment in an oil refinery can account for a significant portion of the operating costs, and poor mixing is expensive due to increased product waste. By some estimates poor mixing costs the chemical industry up to $10 billion a year, and the U.S. pharmaceutical industry alone is estimated to lose $600 million annually through poor mixing. PAX Scientific proposes to develop a line of industrial mixers (static and rotary impellers) that will be 20 to 80 percent more energy efficient than current industry technology, yielding comparable or superior mixing results at a fraction of the energy cost. PAX will develop and use a proprietary computationally-based energy-minimizing design approach based on biomimetics (emulating energy-efficient forms found in nature) to rapidly design and optimize mixer impellers and systems for maximum efficiency. In addition to predictable gains from PAX mixing technologies in the oil and pharmaceutical industries from lower operating costs and improved performance, improved mixing technology could lead to new commercial opportunities. In the biofuels market, for example, the problem of thoroughly mixing highly viscous biomass to minimize the use of expensive enzymes while maximizing ethanol production is a significant component in the current cost of of cellulose-based ethanol.

For project information:
Peter Fiske, (415) 256-9900

ATP Project Manager
Richard Bartholomew, (301) 975-4786

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