Influence of DC electric field upon the production of oil-in-water-in-oil double emulsions in upwards mm-scale channels at low electric field strength

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A novel approach to create O/W/O is developed and described to achieve uniform oil drop size coated with thin layers of water. Drops were created using a test cell where the DC field is applied between different internal diameter (ID) needles (from which the O/W emulsion emits upwards into a continuous oil phase) and a grounded metal ring which was located at selected distances from the needle top. The advantages compared to the previous techniques consist of possibility of control on drop size and coating layer of the water using low electric field. A high speed imaging technique has been applied to determine drop size under different flow and electric field conditions. Without the electric field, several flow regimes were observed; stable formation of both the O/W/O emulsion and the O/W emulsion upstream of the cell was possible over a range of Reynolds numbers from 80 to 100. The effect of the electric field was found to be reverse below electric field strength of 60 kV m−1, beyond this critical value there was significant impact upon the flow regime, drop size and emulsion structure. The impact of the electric field strength upon flow pattern and emulsion structure and a quantitative analysis of droplet size are presented. The work shows the results for the controlled creation of complex emulsion droplets combining electric field and mm scale channels. The differences with the other physical processes reported in the literature are discussed.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-276
JournalExperimental Thermal and Fluid Science
Early online date21 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Double emulsion, High speed imaging, Image analysis, Drop diameter, Flow regime, Electric field