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Active mixing inside double emulsion segments in continuous flow

: Misuk, Viktor; Mai, Andreas; Zhao, Yunnig; Heinrich, Julian; Rauber, Daniel; Giannopoulos, Konstantinos; Löwe, Holger


Journal of Flow Chemistry 5 (2015), No.2, pp.101-109
ISSN: 2063-0212
ISSN: 2062-249X
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ICT-IMM ()
double emulsion; segmented flow; active mixing; continuous flow; g-force; droplet circulation

Fast mixing is essential for many microfluidic applications, especially for flow at low Reynolds numbers. A capillary tube-in-tube coaxial flow setup in combination with a glass microreactor was used to produce immiscible multiphase segments. These double emulsion segments are composed of an organic solvent as the shell (outer) phase and a completely fluorinated liquid (Fluorinert® FC-40) as the core (inner) phase. Due to the higher density of the core droplets, they are responsive to changing their position to the force of gravity (g-force). By gently shaking or jiggling the reactor, the core drop flows very fast in the direction of the g-field without leaving the shell organic phase segment. Furthermore, by shaking or jiggling the reactor, the inner droplet moves along the phase boundary of the shell segment and continuous phase. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) calculations show an enhancement of the internal circulations, i.e., causing an exceptional mixing inside of the shell segment. For reactions which are limited by mass transfer, where the conversion significantly increases with improved mixing, these recirculation zones are decisive because they also accelerate the mixing process. With a common phase-transfer catalytic (PTC) etherification of phenol with dimethyl sulphate, a remarkable increase of yield (85% gas chromatography [GC]) could be achieved by applying active mixing within a segment in continuous flow.