Characterizing droplet breakup rates of shear-thinning dispersed phase in microreactors

Voon-Loong Wong, Katerina Loizou, Phei-Li Lau, Richard S. Graham, Buddhika N. Hewakandamby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


A two-phase flow predictive model with the integration of conservative level-set method (LSM) and Carreau-Yasuda constitutive equation was developed herein. The LSM was chosen as a potential interface capturing scheme for elucidating the interfacial phenomena including insight into the mechanism of shear-thinning droplets. In present paper, the dynamics of shear-dependent droplet emergence, growth, detachment and translocation in a Newtonian microsystem were examined via computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis. Dilute sodium carboxymethylcellulose (Na-CMC) solution was treated as dispersed phase (70 mPa.s < η o < 10.2644 Pa.s) whereas the olive oil (68 mPa.s) was designated as continuous phase. Visualisation experiments were carried out and these laboratory data were used to validate the simulation results. Detailed 2D simulations were presented to examine systematically the impact of fluid properties on the droplet breakup rate at predefined flow rate ratio, Q of 0.05. The results yielded an inflection point in the dependence of droplet breakup rate on Na-CMC concentration was found in between the dilute and semi-dilute concentration regimes. This inflection point displays a non-monotonic profile which is mainly caused by the considerable viscosity effect of Na-CMC polymer when its concentration increases above a critical value (C > C*˜0.40 wt%). This striking behaviour highlights the importance of rheological effects in flows with a shear-dependent fluid under various flow conditions. The viscous effect of Na-CMC fluids substantially affects the manipulation over the droplet pinch-off time and production rate. Thus, it necessitate the control of the shear rate by adjusting the flow conditions and aspect ratio of microchannels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-385
Number of pages16
JournalChemical Engineering Research and Design
Early online date23 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Droplet breakup
  • Level-set
  • Microfluidics
  • T-junction geometry
  • non-Newtonian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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