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1. (WO2002009858) STATIC MIXER ELEMENT AND METHOD FOR MIXING TWO FLUIDS
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CLAIMS

1. A static mixer element comprising:
a) a directional flow axis which passes through the center of gravity of the static mixer element and which points in an intended downstream direction opposite to an intended upstream direction; and
b) a multiplicity of interdigitated static mixer blades each having a concave side facing generally in the intended upstream direction at an acute angle with respect to the intended upstream direction,
wherein a plane perpendicular to, and moving in the direction of, the directional flow axis will first and generally simultaneously strike a subset of the static mixer blades, some of the static mixer blades of the subset disposed at a positive acute angle with respect to the intended upstream direction and the remainder of the static mixer blades of the subset disposed at a negative acute angle with respect to the intended upstream direction.

2. The static mixer element of claim 1, wherein the interdigitated static mixer blades are generally-perpendicularly interdigitated static mixer blades.

3. The static mixer element of claim 1, wherein the absolute value of the acute angle is generally forty-five degrees for each of the static mixer blades.

4. A static mixer element comprising:
a) a directional flow axis which passes through the center of gravity of the static mixer element and which points in an intended downstream direction opposite to an intended upstream direction;
b) a first group of spaced-apart and generally-aligned blade layers, each blade layer of the first group having a plurality of spaced-apart and generally-aligned static mixer blades each having a concave side facing generally in the intended upstream direction at an acute angle with respect to the intended upstream direction; and
c) a second group of spaced-apart and generally-aligned blade layers, the blade layers of the second group aligned generally perpendicular to the blade layers of the first group, each blade layer of the second group having a plurality of spaced-apart and generally- aligned static mixer blades each having a concave side facing generally in the intended upstream direction at an acute angle with respect to the intended upstream direction, and the static mixer blades of the blade layers of the second group interdigitated with, and connected to, the static mixer blades of the blade layers of the first group,
wherein a plane perpendicular to, and moving in the direction of, the directional flow axis will first and generally simultaneously strike at least one static mixer blade from each of at least two blade layers of each of the first and second groups.

5. The static mixer element of claim 4, wherein the acute angle of the static mixer blades of each blade layer of the first group is generally plus forty-five degrees, and wherein the acute angle of the static mixer blades of each blade layer of the second group is generally minus forty-five degrees.

6. The static mixer element of claim 4, wherein the static mixer blades of each blade layer of the first and second groups have a convex side opposing the concave side and have a generally uniform blade thickness between the convex and concave sides.

7. The static mixer element of claim 4, wherein the first group has at least three blade layers including two outermost blade layers and at least one intermediate blade layer disposed between the two outermost blade layers of the first group, wherein the second group has at least three blade layers including two outermost blade layers and at least one intermediate blade layer disposed between the two outermost blade layers of the second group, wherein the static mixer blades of the outermost blade layers of the first group are shorter in length than the static mixer blades of the at least one intermediate blade layer of the first group, and wherein the static mixer blades of the outermost blade layers of the second group are shorter in length than the static mixer blades of the at least one intermediate blade layer of the second group.

8. The static mixer element of claim 4, wherein the concave side of each of the static mixer blades has a generally constant radius of curvature.

9. The static mixer element of claim 4, wherein the concave side of at least one of the static mixer blades of each blade layer of each of the first and second groups is a generally semi-circular concave side.

10. The static mixer element of claim 4, wherein the static mixer blades of the blade layers of the first and second groups together have a generally circular outline when viewed along the directional flow axis.

11. A method for mixing first and second fluids comprising the steps of:
a) obtaining a pipe;
b) obtaining a static mixer element, wherein the static mixer element includes a directional flow axis which passes through the center of gravity of the static mixer element and which points in an intended downstream direction opposite to an intended upstream direction, and wherein the static mixer element includes a multiplicity of interdigitated static mixer blades each having a concave side facing generally in the intended upstream direction at an acute angle with respect to the intended upstream direction;
c) disposing the static mixer element in the pipe with the directional flow axis pointing downstream
d) disposing the first fluid in the pipe upstream from the static mixer element; and
e) disposing the second fluid in the pipe upstream from the static mixer element.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein the interdigitated static mixer blades are generally-perpendicularly interdigitated static mixer blades.

13. The method of claim 11 , wherein the absolute value of the acute angle is generally forty-five degrees for each of the static mixer blades.

14. A method for mixing first and second fluids comprising the steps of:
a) obtaining a pipe;
b) obtaining a static mixer element, wherein the static mixer element includes: (1) a directional flow axis which passes through the center of gravity of the static mixer element and which points in an intended downstream direction opposite to an intended upstream direction;
(2) a first group of spaced-apart and generally-aligned blade layers, each blade layer of the first group having a plurality of spaced-apart and generally-aligned static mixer blades each having a concave side facing generally in the intended upstream direction at an acute angle with respect to the intended upstream direction; and
(3) a second group of spaced-apart and generally-aligned blade layers, the blade layers of the second group aligned generally perpendicular to the blade layers of the first group, each blade layer of the second group having a plurality of spaced-apart and generally-aligned static mixer blades each having a concave side facing generally in the intended upstream direction at an acute angle with respect to the intended upstream direction, and the static mixer blades of the blade layers of the second group interdigitated with, and connected to, the static mixer blades of the blade layers of the first group,
wherein a plane perpendicular to, and moving in the direction of, the directional flow axis will first and generally simultaneously strike at least one static mixer blade from each of at least two blade layers of each of the first and second groups;
c) disposing the static mixer element in the pipe with the directional flow axis pointing downstream;
d) disposing the first fluid in the pipe upstream from the static mixer element; and
e) disposing the second fluid in the pipe upstream from the static mixer element.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the acute angle of the static mixer blades of each blade layer of the first group is generally plus forty-five degrees, and wherein the acute angle of the static mixer blades of each blade layer of the second group is generally minus forty-five degrees.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein the static mixer blades of each blade layer of the first and second groups have a convex side opposing the concave side and have a generally uniform blade thickness between the convex and concave sides.

17. The method of claim 14, wherein the first group has at least three blade layers including two outermost blade layers and at least one intermediate blade layer disposed between the two outermost blade layers of the first group, wherein the second group has at least three blade layers including two outermost blade layers and at least one intermediate blade layer disposed between the two outermost blade layers of the second group, wherein the static mixer blades of the outermost blade layers of the first group are shorter in length than the static mixer blades of the at least one intermediate blade layer of the first group, and wherein the static mixer blades of the outermost blade layers of the second group are shorter in length than the static mixer blades of the at least one intermediate blade layer of the second group.

18. The method of claim 14, wherein the concave side of each of the static mixer blades has a generally constant radius of curvature.

19. The method of claim 14, wherein the concave side of at least one of the static mixer blades of each blade layer of each of the first and second groups is a generally semi-circular concave side.

20. The method element of claim 14, wherein the static mixer blades of the blade layers of the first and second groups together have a generally circular outline when viewed along the directional flow axis, and wherein the circular outline has a diameter generally equal to the inside diameter of the pipe.

21. The method of claim 14, wherein the ratio of the viscosity of the first fluid to the viscosity of the second fluid is at least ten thousand to one.

22. A static mixer element assembly comprising:
a) a first static mixer element including:
1) a directional flow axis which passes through the center of gravity of the static mixer element and which points in an intended downstream direction opposite to an intended upstream direction;

2) a first group of spaced-apart and generally-aligned blade layers, each blade layer of the first group having a plurality of spaced-apart and generally-aligned static mixer blades each having a concave side facing generally in the intended upstream direction at an acute angle with respect to the intended upstream direction; and
3) a second group of spaced-apart and generally-aligned blade layers, the blade layers of the second group aligned generally perpendicular to the blade layers of the first group, each blade layer of the second group having a plurality of spaced-apart and generally-aligned static mixer blades each having a concave side facing generally in the intended upstream direction at an acute angle with respect to the intended upstream direction, and the static mixer blades of the blade layers of the second group interdigitated with, and connected to, the static mixer blades of the blade layers of the first group, wherein a plane perpendicular to, and moving in the direction of, the directional flow axis will first and generally simultaneously strike at least one static mixer blade from each of at least two blade layers of each of the first and second groups; and
b) a second static mixer element substantially identical to the first static mixer element, disposed to have its directional flow axis substantially superimposed on the directional flow axis of the first static mixer element, rotated generally ninety degrees with respect to the first static mixer element about the directional flow axis of the first static mixer element, and disposed proximate the first static mixer element.

23. A method for mixing first and second fluids comprising the steps of:
a) obtaining a pipe;
b) obtaining a first static mixer element, wherein the first static mixer element includes:
(1) a directional flow axis which passes through the center of gravity of the first static mixer element and which points in an intended downstream direction opposite to an intended upstream direction;
(2) a first group of spaced-apart and generally-aligned blade layers, each blade layer of the first group having a plurality of spaced-apart and generally-aligned static mixer blades each having a concave side facing generally in the intended upstream direction at an acute angle with respect to the intended upstream direction; and (3) a second group of spaced-apart and generally-aligned blade layers, the blade layers of the second group aligned generally perpendicular to the blade layers of the first group, each blade layer of the second group having a plurality of spaced-apart and generally-aligned static mixer blades each having a concave side facing generally in the intended upstream direction at an acute angle with respect to the intended upstream direction, and the static mixer blades of the blade layers of the second group interdigitated with, and connected to, the static mixer blades of the blade layers of the first group,
wherein a plane perpendicular to, and moving in the direction of, the directional flow axis of the first static mixer element will first and generally simultaneously strike at least one static mixer blade from each of at least two blade layers of each of the first and second groups;
c) disposing the first static mixer element in the pipe with the directional flow axis of the first static mixer element pointing downstream;
d) obtaining a second static mixer element substantially identical to the first static mixer element;
e) disposing the second static mixer element in the pipe downstream of the first static mixer element with the directional flow axis of the second static mixer element pointing downstream and with the second static mixer element rotated generally ninety degrees with respect to the first static mixer element about the directional flow axis of the first static mixer element;
f) disposing the first fluid in the pipe upstream from the first static mixer element; and
g) disposing the second fluid in the pipe upstream from the first static mixer element.

24. The method of claim 23, wherein step e) also includes disposing the second static mixer element in contact with the first static mixer element.