homogenization (həmŏjˌənəzāˈshən) [key], process in which a mixture is made uniform throughout. Generally this procedure involves reducing the size of the particles of one component of the mixture and dispersing them evenly throughout the other component. Probably the most familiar example of a homogenized product is commercially sold milk. In milk that has not been homogenized the globules of fat range in diameter from approximately 1 to 20 micrometers (millionths of a meter), or 40 to 800 millionths of an inch. This allows them to separate out from the rest of the milk if it is allowed to stand. After homogenization the globules are reduced to a range of sizes clustering closely about 1 micrometer and remain stably dispersed through the milk. Homogenization is usually accomplished by pumping the milk through a small opening at high pressure. Milk that has been homogenized is better suited for shipment in paper containers but deteriorates more rapidly than unhomogenized milk.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.