Many of the food and personal care products in our daily life (e.g., shampoo, creams, milk, mayonnaise) are emulsion-based systems. The small emulsion droplets are typically produced using high shear processes. These processes comprise a rich set of multiphase phenomena during and after production, e.g., during pumping, filtering, and filling. In a flowing concentrated emulsion, droplets can deform, aggregate, break up, coalesce, or migrate and self-organize within the flow field. The dynamics of these phenomena become even richer when considering the spreading of surfactants/polymers to facilitate the flow as done in enhanced oil recovery. Understanding this complex set of phenomena is crucial for predicting the performance and stability of emulsion-based products.

The goal of this project is to advance the current understanding of how concentrated emulsions flow through narrow constrictions. More specifically, we aim to understand how coalescence probability and propagation changes due to the complex flow patterns governed by the cooperative motion of the droplets, the microstructure of the emulsion and the geometry of constrictions. To this end, we will develop and use experimental techniques, such as micro Particle Image Velocimetry, to study flows in model geometries made in microfluidic devices.

Student projects

Students who are interested in microscale fluid dynamics and emulsion stability are welcome to contact me about opportunities for a thesis project.

E. Hinderink