Membrane emulsification: Formation of water in oil emulsions using a hydrophilic membrane

It is shown that formation of water based droplets in an immiscible (i.e. oil) continuous phase can be achieved using a hydrophilic porous metal membrane without prior hydrophobic treatment of the membrane surface. This avoids the need for "health and safety approval" of typical hydrophobic treatments for the membrane, which often use chemicals incompatible with pharma or food applications. To investigate this, wetting experiments were carried out: sessile droplets were used to determine static contact angles and a rotating drum system was used to determine contact angles under dynamic conditions. In the latter case the three-phase contact line was observed between the rotating drum, water and the continuous phase used in the emulsification process; a surfactant was present in the continuous phase which, in this process, has a double function: to assist the wetting of the membrane by the continuous phase, and not the disperse phase, and to stabilize the droplets formed at the surface of the porous membrane during membrane emulsification.