Microgels for the intensification of extraction processes
In this project we will investigate the application potential of microgels for the intensification of extraction processes and provide a proof-of-concept and evaluation of the utilization of microgels for these purposes. Our goal is a significant improvement of the performance and operational flexibility of extraction processes which often suffer from strong drop coalescence and a resulting broad drop-size distribution. Microgels possess a high potential to solve these issues due to their ability to cover and stabilize liquid-liquid interfaces. In the resulting process concept shown in Figure 1, monodisperse microgel-covered drops are formed at the bottom of the column and rise maintaining a narrow dropsize distribution. Therefore, the required active height of the column and energy input necessary to compensate the coalescence by promoting breakage can be reduced compared to extraction processes without microgels. At the top of the column, an external stimulus such as a raise in temperature causes the microgels to collapse and thus promotes coalescence. Subsequently the microgels will be separated and reused. The consequential reduction in energy consumption, apparatus volume and increased through-put could significantly increase the process efficiency.
Wöll, Dominik, Prof. Dr. Institute of Physical Chemistry
RWTH Aachen University
+49 241 80 98624