Shorn, not shaken
We often use emulsions such as milk, ointments or dispersion paints in everyday life. In order to create such emulsions, two or more non-miscible liquids are mingled through the even distribution of droplets of one liquid in the other. Either droplets of an oily liquid can be entered into a watery liquid or vice versa. The target is a defined droplet size and distribution in order to achieve certain product properties and stable emulsions.
State of the art
Mixers, agitators or homogenisers are examples of familiar emulsifying devices. Apparatus of this kind work using the principle of mechanical energy to comminute the liquid droplets. Depending on the choice of emulsifying device, comminution proceeds in different flow conditions, with the droplets being shorn. The liquids are expanded and are ultimately torn up into smaller droplets.
Scientists at the Institute for Micro Process Engineering (IMVT) have developed a compact emulsifying device with which, via inflows, the liquids are guided into an emulsifying chamber consisting of a curved flow passage. The cross-section of such a micro-passage is preferably round. Thanks to this geometric design, the flow field is especially suited to achieve the propensity to comminute drops and also maintain this property. The liquids flow through in a helical form, being shorn to particularly tiny droplet sizes through very high shearing rates, and all this is achieved without any mechanical components. Allowing several devices to be used in parallel, the new technology is simple to scale up for industrial applications – larger quantities can be stably emulsified.
The newly developed emulsifying device can be manufactured by milling or 3D laser melting. Design variants for the inflows and curvatures can be individualised.
Options for companies
KIT is looking for partners for industrial applications of the technology and for its further development for special emulsifying problems in practical contexts.
Your contact person for this offer
Dr. Rainer Körber,
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Innovation Manager, Innovation and Relations Management (IRM)
Phone: +49 721 608-25587