Membrane emulsification using membranes of regular pore spacing: droplet size and uniformity in the presence of surface shear

During membrane emulsification it is shown that the size of the drops formed at the membrane surface may increase with increasing dispersed phase injection rate through the membrane, or it may decrease, depending on the prevailing conditions. This is illustrated using a paddle stirrer positioned above flat disc membranes with regular arrays of pores of 20 μm diameter and spacing between the pores of 80 and 200 μm. In the former case an additional mechanism for drop detachment is the push-off force, which is determined by the geometry of the drops as they deform at the membrane surface. When dispersing sunflower oil in to aqueous solutions containing Tween 20, drop sizes between 60 and 200 μm were produced, and in the case of the membrane when the push-off force was working the Coefficient of Variation of the drops formed was below 10%. The push-off force may be added to the shear-drag force to predict drop detachment. For the 200 μm pore spaced membrane this force is much less prominent than the 80 μm spaced membrane. The capillary-shear model has been modified to include this push-off force. The experimental study required the use of very low dispersed phase injection rates as well as very high rates. Hence, two different types of pumps were used to provide these: a peristaltic and syringe pumps. A small study comparing the drop size, and size distributions, showed that the pump type did not influence the drops produced by the membrane emulsification process.