Prediction of emulsion particle sizes using a computational fluid dynamics approach

W.G.M. Agterof, G.E.J. Vaessen, G.A.A.V. Haagh, J.K. Klahn, J.M.J. Janssen

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For many food products emulsification processes play an important role. Examples are ice cream, spreads, sauces, etc. As is well known, droplet break-up and coalescence phenomena are the local processes underlying the control of particle size in an emulsion process. Quite a number of studies have generated scaling laws which can be easily applied and which are useful in the design of a process. However, the prediction of particle sizes in an inhomogeneous flow, where the flow velocity is changing spatially in strength and direction and with time, is not yet well established. For one-phase flows computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methodologies are in use to predict details on the flow with quite some success. This methodology has been extended to capture the dispersed phase in an efficient way. The essence is that break-up and coalescence processes determine source terms in a transport equation for the moments of the particle size distribution, while velocity vectors as obtained in the one-phase CFD simulation determine the convective term. This method allows particle size prediction in any equipment. The approach is illustrated for the particle size evolution of an oil-in-water emulsion, for a phase-separated biopolymeric mixture (a so-called water-in-water emulsion) and for the escape of the included oil droplets from a double emulsion of the type oil-in-water-in-oil. In all cases experimental results are compared with simulation results, which match very well. This shows the strength of the method.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)141-148
Number of pages8
JournalColloids and surfaces B: Biointerfaces
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • IR-73623
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • Emulsification
  • Population balance
  • METIS-213541

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