DeMiR: Design of Micro/Milli-Reactors

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Author: Jacinthe Gagnon
Supervisors: Karin Schro├źn and Teris van Beek

Email: jacinthe.gagnon@wur.nl

Tel. 0031 317 482378

Introduction:

Emulsions are of great interest in food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. The physical stability of these products is essential; monodisperse emulsions are more stable, and therefore desirable. However, with the current production methods, monodisperse emulsions are difficult to obtain, and the energy consumption is high, which may result in heat damage to the product. Micro-channels (MC) offer an energetically favorable emulsification method to produce monodisperse emulsions and foams, since droplets are spontaneously snapped off due to the interfacial tension effects. Many factors influence the size of the emulsion droplets obtained by microchannel emulsification, such as the size and design of the microchannel system, the oil flow, the temperature, and so on. Besides, changes to microchannel surface properties due to fouling may lead to loss of emulsification, because the oil would stick to the walls.

Goal:
The DeMiR project is a collaboration project with Eindhoven University of Technology and Delft University of Technology. Its main goal is to develop a generic methodology or strategy for selecting and designing the best scale of operation for gas/liquid and liquid/liquid systems. At Wageningen University, in the groups of Organic Chemistry and Food Process Engineering, the existing MC emulsification apparatus will be improved.

The first step will be to chemically modify the emulsification channel surfaces to render them hydrophilic. For example, the method depicted in Figure 1 has been successfully applied to silicon-nitride surfaces, and when modification with EO is applied, protein adsorption is considerably reduced, and in some cases prevented.  The design of the microchannel will then be improved in order to optimize the emulsification and, in a later stage, foam formation will be investigated.

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Figure 1 . Formation and functionalization of covalently attached monolayers on H-terminated silicon nitride.

Fields of interests:

  • Surface Modification,
  • Emulsification,
  • Foam formation,
  • Process engineering.