Image Number 6 for United States Patent #5868495.
A method for treating a continuous flow of fluent materials employs an apparatus (20, 200) comprising a generally cylindrical housing (23, 202) having an inlet (22, 204), an outlet (24, 206) and a plurality of treatment stages for successively imparting pulses of energy to the fluent materials in order to disassociate the materials at the molecular level and achieve a homogeneous, highly dispersed mixture. Each of the treatment stages includes a pair of baffle plates (50, 52, 248, 250) which are relatively rotatable and oppose the flow of fluent materials through the housing, to define alternating zones of high pressure and cavitation. Each pair of the baffle plates include matched sets of openings (54, 56, 252, 254) therein which are periodically brought into alignment with each other as one plate rotates relative to the other, thereby allowing bursts of the fluent material to flow therethrough, from an upstream area (32, 212) of relatively high pressure into a cavitation area (84, 258). One of the baffle plates (52, 60, 248, 264) in each pair thereof is mounted on a shaft (77, 224) rotated by a motor (76) located external of the housing. Slidably adjustable ring gates (236, 288) respectively control the flow rate and direction of fluent material entering and exiting the treatment stages. An optional fluid pump (280) within the housing compensates for fluid pressure drops across the treatment stages.