Unravelling Turbulent Emulsions with lattice-Boltzmann simulations

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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The mixing of two immiscible fluids, often under turbulent conditions, can lead to the formation of an emulsion, where droplets of one fluid are embedded in another fluid. The occurrence of emulsions is commonplace across industries, ranging from the oil industry to food processing and biotechnology. Why emulsions serve diverse applications, in grossly simple terms, is due to their structural organization, as the two fluids in an emulsion form exhibit very different physical properties than they do when separated. The stability of the emulsion structure, hence, is key for its utility. The presence of impurities, or surfactants, in the constituent fluids, greatly enhances emulsion stability, by preventing the coalescence of droplets (which would lead to phase segregation). Emulsion research, over the past century, has developed into a thriving field, driven by the force of detailed experimentation that has significantly informed modeling, control and design of processes dealing with emulsification.
Despite being predictable to a degree, the true nature of droplet dynamics at the
heart of emulsification remains unknown. It is experimentally exceedingly difficult to illumine the evolution of interfaces undergoing coalescence and breakup, while simultaneously reporting the three-dimensional, turbulent flow features. It is slowly becoming feasible, however, to tackle these problems by using numerical simulations. Such simulations, too, involve a level of modeling complexity and pose heavy computational demands, and have hence remained an exception. It is only now becoming feasible to simulate such complex flows, allowing us to augment experiments with numerical insights. In this thesis, we attempt to unravel emulsification (to a small extent) by using simulations resolving both flow and interfaces, while considering fluids with impurities.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • van den Akker, H.E.A., Supervisor
  • Kenjeres, S., Supervisor
Award date10 Dec 2019
Print ISBNs978-94-6384-093-4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Turbulence
  • emulsions
  • droplet dynamics
  • simulations


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