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Effect of Geometry on Droplet Generation in a Microfluidic T-Junction

[+] Author Affiliations
Katerina Loizou, Wim Thielemans, Buddhika N. Hewakandamby

University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Paper No. FEDSM2013-16161, pp. V002T21A003; 7 pages
doi:10.1115/FEDSM2013-16161
From:
  • ASME 2013 Fluids Engineering Division Summer Meeting
  • Volume 2, Fora: Cavitation and Multiphase Flow; Fluid Measurements and Instrumentation; Microfluidics; Multiphase Flows: Work in Progress
  • Incline Village, Nevada, USA, July 7–11, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Fluids Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5558-4
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME

abstract

The main aim of this study is to examine how the droplet formation in microfluidic T-junctions is influenced by the cross-section and aspect ratio of the microchannels. Several studies focusing on droplet formation in microfluidic devices have investigated the effect of geometry on droplet generation in terms of the ratio between the width of the main channel and the width of the side arm of the T-junction. However, the contribution of the aspect ratio and thus that of the cross-section on the mechanism of break up has not been examined thoroughly with most of the existing work performed in the squeezing regime. Two different microchannel geometries of varying aspect ratios are employed in an attempt to quantify the effect of the ratio between the width of the main channel and the height of the channel on droplet formation. As both height and width of microchannels affect the area on which shear stress acts deforming the dispersed phase fluid thread up to the limit of detaching a droplet, it is postulated that geometry and specifically cross-section of the main channel contribute on the droplet break-up mechanisms and should not be neglected. The above hypothesis is examined in detail, comparing the volume of generated microdroplets at constant flowrate ratios and superficial velocities of continuous phase in two microchannel systems of two different aspect ratios operating at dripping regime. High-speed imaging has been utilised to visualise and measure droplets formed at different flowrates corresponding to constant superficial velocities. Comparing volumes of generated droplets in the two geometries of area ratio near 1.5, a significant increase in volume is reported for the larger aspect ratio utilised, at all superficial velocities tested. As both superficial velocity of continuous phase and flowrate ratio are fixed, superficial velocity of dispersed phase varies. However this variation is not considered to be large enough to justify the significant increase in the droplet volume. Therefore it can be concluded that droplet generation is influenced by the aspect ratio and thus the cross-section of the main channel and its effect should not be depreciated. The paper will present supporting evidence in detail and a comparison of the findings with the existing theories which are mainly focused on the squeezing regime.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME

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