Research Papers: Fuel Combustion

Biofuel Emulsifier Using High-Velocity Impinging Flows and Singularities in Microchannels

[+] Author and Article Information
A. Belkadi

UMR CNRS 6607,
Universite de Nantes,
1 rue Christian Pauc, BP 50609,
Nantes 44300, France

A. Montillet

Universite de Nantes,
37 bd de l'Université,
Saint-Nazaire 44600, France

J. Bellettre

UMR CNRS 6607,
Universite de Nantes,
1 rue Christian Pauc, BP 50609,
Nantes 44300, France
e-mail: Jerome.Bellettre@univ-nantes.fr

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENERGY RESOURCES TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received February 2, 2017; final manuscript received July 17, 2017; published online August 16, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Reza Sheikhi.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 140(1), 012202 (Aug 16, 2017) (8 pages) Paper No: JERT-17-1055; doi: 10.1115/1.4037370 History: Received February 02, 2017; Revised July 17, 2017

The objective of this experimental work is to design an original microfluidic mixer for continuous emulsification of small fractions of water in a lipid phase. This system is aimed to be integrated on-line in the process so as to avoid the use of a surfactant. The currently targeted application is a better combustion of water-supplemented alternative biofuels in boilers, turbines, or internal combustion engines in general. Therefore, mean size of droplets of water in the emulsion should be 5–10 μm, and the water content should not exceed ∼20%. Microsystems developed in this work are designed so as to enhance different flow perturbations that are favorable for the emulsification process. The microchannels for the fluids admittance have different sections: 300 × 300 μm2 and 600 × 600 μm2. As a consequence, an impinging flow is developed at the crossing of the inlet microchannels of the two phases which has for effect a significant stretching of the fluids. Then, depending on the continuous phase, Rayleigh instabilities can be developed in the straight parts of the outlet channels (600 × 600 μm2) and/or the enhancement of fluid splitting is obtained; thanks to a singularity (bend) located in the same outlet channels. Two different continuous phases are tested (gasoil and sun flower oil) for which the flow rate is about (65–100 ml/min). The water fraction is varied in the range 7–24%. It is shown that the length of the outlet microchannels is a crucial parameter. Considering an oil phase with low viscosity, such as gasoil, a too long channel can promote coalescence. On the opposite, longer outlet channels are needed with more viscous fluids (like sunflower oil) in order to develop Rayleigh instabilities which is, in this case, the more efficient way to obtain emulsions in this kind of microsystem. On a general point of view, concerning the size of the water droplets, dispersion of water is much more efficient with this microsystem using gasoil rather than vegetable oil as the continuous phase. Considering the targeted application, emulsions with an average size of water droplets of about 10 μm were obtained with gasoil as the continuous phase.

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Fig. 1

Emulsification setup: (1) microsystem comprising a single bend at the emulsion channel, (2) w/o emulsion, (3) pressure sensors, (4) piston pumps, (5) beakers containing water or continuous phase (oil or diesel), (6) weighing scales, and (7) fluoropolymer tubes with inner diameter = 1.55 mm and outer diameter = 3.125 mm

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Fig. 2

Example of water in sunflower oil dispersion under an optical microscope

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Fig. 3

Design of the impinging zone localized in the crossing zone of the developed microfluidic devices

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Fig. 4

Schematic representation of the two microfluidic configurations tested

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Fig. 5

Water droplets distribution (gasoil, configuration b, series 1)

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Fig. 6

Influence of the flow rate of the continuous phase flow on water droplets using configuration (b)

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Fig. 7

Influence of the dispersed phase flow on the mean size of water droplets

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Fig. 8

Flow topology for two different continuous phases using configuration (b): (a)QO = 64.7 ml/min; Qw = 8.3 ml/min, (b) QO = 74.8 ml/min; Qw = 11.9 ml/min, (c) QO = 80.8 ml/min; Qw = 17.6 ml/min, (d) QO = 76.4 ml/min; Qw = 23.7 ml/min, (e) QG = 98.1 ml/min Qw = 8.4 ml/min, (f) QG = 97.9 ml/min Qw = 12.0 ml/min, (g) QG = 99.2 ml/min Qw = 18.0 ml/min, and (h) QG = 99.1 ml/min Qw = 24.0 ml/min



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