The drop size in membrane emulsification determined from the balance of capillary and hydrodynamic forces

N. C. Christov, K. D. Danov, D.K. Danova, P. A. Kralchevsky

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Here, we investigate experimentally and theoretically the factors that determine the size of the emulsion droplets produced by membrane emulsification in "batch regime" (without applied crossflow). Hydrophilic glass membranes of pore diameters between 1 and 10 μm have been used to obtain oil-in-water emulsions. The working surfactant concentrations are high enough to prevent drop coalescence. Under such conditions, the size of the formed drops does not depend on the surfactant type and concentration, on the interfacial tension, or on the increase of viscosity of the inner (oil) phase. The drops are monodisperse when the working transmembrane pressure is slightly above the critical pressure for drop breakup. At higher pressures, the size distribution becomes bimodal: a superposition of a "normal" peak of monodisperse drops and an "anomalous" peak of polydisperse drops is observed. The theoretical model assumes that, at the moment of breakup, the hydrodynamic ejection force acting on the drop is equal to the critical capillary force that corresponds to the stability-instability transition in the drop shape. The derived equations are applied to predict the mean size of the obtained drops in regimes of constant flow rate and constant transmembrane pressure. Agreement between theory and experiment is established for the latter regime, which corresponds to our experimental conditions. The transition from unimodal to bimodal drop size distribution upon increase of the transmembrane pressure can be interpreted in terms of the transition from "dripping" to "jetting" mechanisms of drop detachment. © 2008 American Chemical Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1397-1410
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

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