Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Sensor Technology Development for Milling Industry(ST6426-1)

Sigma Engineering Corporation, Inc.


Sigma, founded in 1980, manufactures and supplies mixers, extruders, wet milling machinery and pumps for the chemical, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and healthcare products industries. "Mixing", in the context of this project, refers to the act of combining a liquid with another liquid, or a liquid with a solid. The objective of mixing is to achieve a uniform blend of materials. Frequently, this means uniform particle suspensions. For all liquid systems, the particles are generally emulsion droplets. "Milling" refers to the act of reducing the size of solid particles suspended in a liquid vehicle. Cautious users can send samples to the lab for quality analysis, a time consuming process. Over mixing a product that can tolerate it occurs often, and wastes energy. The objectives of this project are to develop and demonstrate an Intelligent Mixer/Miller (IM) which shall be the coupling of a custom-built dual measurement radiation monitor (DMRM) to a mixer/miller. The IM shall have the ability to minimize mixing time. This will allow for energy and waste reduction in the process, by examining products in-process in time for corrections to be made. A second objective is to develop an innovative mixing machine, the Refining Amalgamator (RA) that combines three process steps into one, thereby reducing energy and water use.

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Project Description

The Contractor was able to accomplish the following tasks: (1) perform bench scale analyses and technology evaluation for the DMRM and the RA; (2) perform prototype DMRM testing; (3) design and fabricate the Intelligent Mixer/Miller (IM) machine and spectrometer; (4) develop the balance of system components and software; (5) perform IM system startup, shakedown, and initial testing; (6) provide IM system monitoring and testing; (7) perform economic evaluation of IM costs and benefits, and develop commercialization plan. The remaining effort will focused on developing the RTOA as an enhanced product by transforming the RTOA from a passive sensor to an active decision-making controller, and enabling the use of multiple fiber optic probes to monitor and control several mixers simultaneously.


The Contractor has developed a prototype IM machine that has been clearly demonstrated to save considerable energy, depending on the specific applications. Refinements to the DMRM will open up many more opportunities to control the mixing and milling energy use of a variety of existing equipment to which the DMRM could be retrofitted. Applications to peak shifting as well as to the broad class of automation, reducing demands on manpower, and providing repeatable and objective criteria are being pursued.

Project Results

The IM was shown to decrease energy usage by a) more efficient mixing/milling and b) providing immediate information about the status of materials in process. Thus, the analyzer has been shown to be an efficient indicator of the state of readiness of a product. A series of tests indicated that batch time and associated energy demands could be reduced by as much as 30-70%. Several field trials were successfully accomplished in the project. Marketing of the new products have commenced, and the development of refinements to the DMRM are underway.


Sigma Engineering Corporation, Inc.
39 Westmoreland Ave
White Plains, NY 10606

Principle Investigator

Edward D'Errico

Universities Involved


Project Type:

Product Development

Technologies Types:

Industrial Products

NYSERDA Contact Information

William Reinhardt


R&D - Mfg Tech & On-Site Pwr

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST6426-1

Last Updated: 3/21/2014