CFD analysis of microchannel emulsification: Droplet generation process and size effect of asymmetric straight flow-through microchannels
journal contributionposted on 24.10.2011, 13:32 authored by Isao Kobayashi, Goran VladisavljevicGoran Vladisavljevic, Kunihiko Uemura, Mitsutoshi Nakajima
Asymmetric straight flow-through microchannel (MC) arrays are high-performance MC emulsification devices for stable mass production of uniform droplets. This paper presents computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation and analysis of the generation of soybean oil-in-water emulsion droplets via asymmetric straight flow-through MCs, each consisting of a microslot and a narrow MC. We also used CFD to investigate the effects of the channel size and the flow of the dispersed phase on MC emulsification using asymmetric straight flow-through MCs with a characteristic channel size of 5 to 400 μm. The overall shape of an oil-water interface and the time scale during droplet generation via a control asymmetric straight flow-through MC were appropriately simulated. Better insight was obtained on the flow profile of the two phases and the internal pressure balance of the dispersed phase during droplet generation. Comparison of the CFD and experiment results also provided insight into dynamic interfacial tension during droplet generation. Successful droplet generation was observed below a critical dispersed-phase velocity. In this case, the resultant droplet size was proportional to the channel size and was not sensitive to the dispersed-phase velocity applied. The maximum droplet generation rate per channel was inversely proportional to the channel size, unless the buoyancy force did not promote droplet detachment. The maximum droplet productivity per unit area of an asymmetric straight flow-through MC array was estimated to be constant, regardless of channel size.
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