Break-up, Coalescence and Catastrophic Phase Inversion in Turbulent Contractors

Alvin Nienow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


When a low concentration of immiscible phase is dispersed, break-up in the impeller region controls the drop size. The traditional application of Kolmogoroff's theory of local isotropic turbulence has been moderately successful in relating equilibrium drop sizes to the physical properties and the turbulent flow, with low power number impellers giving smaller drops at equal mean specific energy dissipation rates, However, to explain the reduction in drop size at equal (ε) over bar (T) on scale-up, the concept of intermittency must be introduced leading to a scale-up rule close to constant tip speed. With increasing concentration, coalescence generally becomes important and drop sizes increase. Modelling of coalescence involves collision frequency and coalescence efficiency. The latter is dependent on the type of drop interface, the establishment of which type for a particular system being difficult. The difficulty is compounded since in clean systems, at concentrations of the aqueous phase > similar to20% by volume, droplets of oil appear in the aqueous drops whilst the converse is not found. At sufficiently high concentrations, where the concept of collision frequency is questionable, catastrophic phase inversion (CPI) occurs because coalescence becomes so high. Anything that enhances coalescence, e.g. surfactants, particles that bridge interfaces, wettable surfaces, bulk flow patterns, encourages CPI to occur at lower concentrations of dispersed phase. Satisfactory models for CPI are not available. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-103
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in Colloid and Interface Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2004


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