How microfluidic methods can lead to better emulsion products

Muijlwijk, Kelly; Berton-Carabin, Claire; Schroën, Karin


Where production lines are judged on their throughput, which is in the order of m3 per hour, interestingly enough the scale at which a lot of phenomena relevant to food structure take place is much smaller: the micro- and nanometre scale. Microfluidics can be used to bridge these scales and in this paper we illustrate this for emulsion products that can be investigated in close detail with high speed recording and image analysis. In general, microfluidic systems are known for the formation of monodisperse emulsions and when scaled-up, they could lead to products with novel properties. However, it should be mentioned that this technology is not that far developed that this is a genuine option at the moment. Where microfluidics can be of great assistance, is in increasing the level of understanding of droplet formation and stability, which is presented in this review. More precisely, we report on microfluidic methods for measurements of dynamic interfacial tension in the millisecond range, and of emulsion stability, both under regular flow conditions as well as under enhanced gravity. Through this, we hope to give evidence that microfluidic investigations can add greatly to the knowledge needed for rational design of large scale emulsion production.