University of Limerick
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Emulsions using a vortex-based cavitation device: influence of number of passes, pressure drop, and device scale on droplet size distributions

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 11:12 authored by Abhijeet ThakerAbhijeet Thaker, Vivek RanadeVivek Ranade

Liquid−liquid emulsions are used in a variety of industry sectors, including personal care, home care, food, and nutrition. The development of compact and modular systems and devices for creating emulsions with desired droplet size distribution (DSD) is becoming increasingly important. In this work, we have shown use of vortex-based cavitation devices for producing emulsions at nominal flow rate of 1 LPM and 20 LPM. We present new experimental results providing quantitative information on influence of multiple passes through the vortex based hydrodynamic cavitation (HC) device, type of oil and device scale on the breakage process and resulting DSDs. Multiple pass experiments were performed for generating oil-in-water emulsions containing 5 and 15% of oil. Rapeseed oil (RO) and tetrachloroethylene (TCE) were used as oil phases with densities of 915 and 1620 kg/m3 , respectively. The effect of pressure drop across the HC device in the range of 50−250 kPa on DSD was examined. The HC device was shown to exhibit significant higher efficiency compared to alternative emulsion making devices (i.e., homogenizers, venturi, and orifice-based HC devices), and the Sauter mean drop size was found to reduce from 66 μm to less than 2 μm after about 50 passes in all the device scales. The DSD of the RO−water system showed a bimodal nature, whereas monomodal DSD was found for TCE−water system. Preliminary simulations using the computational fluid dynamics−population balance model (CFD-PBM) models developed in the previous work indicated the inadequacy of developed models to capture the influence of cavitation on DSDs. By carrying out Hinze scale analysis of bimodal DSD, we for the first time showed the existence of two different mechanisms (one based on conventional turbulent shear and the other based on collapsing cavities) of droplet breakage in HC devices. The order of magnitude of turbulence energy dissipation rates generated due to collapsing cavity estimated using Hinze scale analysis showed good agreement with the values reported from cavity dynamics models. The presented experimental results and analysis will be useful for researchers and engineers interested in developing computational models and compact devices for producing emulsions of the desired DSD.


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Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research


American Chemical Society

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The authors greatly acknowledge the support provided by Ansys for CFD licence under an academic partnership programme. The authors greatly acknowledge financial support from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI Project ID: 20/FFP-A/8518). The authors also acknowledge the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) for the provision of computational facilities and support. We thank Mr. Ketan R. Madane for his help in the design of computational geometry and mesh.

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