Toward a mechanistic understanding of microfluidic droplet-based extraction and separation of lanthanides

Droplet-based microfluidic extraction is a promising way for effective lanthanides extraction due to its outstanding mass transfer performance. The separation process can be greatly enhanced with the droplet-based microfluidic extraction technique. However, the interactions between mass transfer, microfluidic dynamics and extraction kinetics are still unclear, which has hindered further manipulation on microfluidic extraction to boost extraction performance. In this study, the mechanisms of microfluidic droplet-based extraction and separation intensification of lanthanides are for the first time unveiled by using a numerical simulation model. The limiting factors for the performance of droplet-based microfluidic extraction are identified through a model-based parametric analysis. The numerical analyses provide a comprehensive understanding of droplet-based microfluidic extraction systems and offer operation and optimization guidelines for future research in this area.