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Research Abstracts Online
January 2008 - March 2009

University of Minnesota Duluth
Swenson College of Science and Engineering
Department of Chemical Engineering

PI: Michael A. Rother

Surfactant Effects on Viscous Interactions of Drops

Surfactants ("surface-active agents,” e.g., soap) reside at the interface between two liquids, or a liquid and a gas, and modify the interfacial tension between the phases. The presence of surfactant affects the interactions between drops in an immiscible medium, including whether or not the drops coalesce. These interactions are important in emulsion stability, sedimentation and creaming, polymer blending, rheology, liquid-liquid extraction, and geophysical flows. Thus, understanding how surfactants work is important to many industries, including food, pesticides, paints, ore flotation, and detergents.

The primary objective of this work is to develop a fundamental understanding of the role of surfactants on dilute dispersions of spherical and deformable drops in a variety of flows. In general, the goal is to calculate collision efficiencies for spherical drops, or breakup and capture efficiencies for deformable drops, by a trajectory analysis. The behavior of dilute dispersions can then be predicted through population dynamics simulations.