Experimental and Computational Multiphase Flow

Article Title

Research on the viscosity of stabilized emulsions in different pipe diameters using pressure drop and phase inversion


oil-water flow, emulsion rheology, effective viscosity, phase inversion, pressure drop


This paper reports experimental research on the flow behavior of oil-water surfactant stabilized emulsions in different pipe diameters along with theoretical and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling of the relative viscosity and inversion properties. The pipe flow of emulsions was studied in turbulent and laminar conditions in four pipe diameters (16, 32, 60, and 90 mm) at different mixture velocities and increasing water fractions. Salt water (3.5% NaCl w/v, pH = 7.3) and a mineral oil premixed with a lipophilic surfactant (Exxsol D80 + 0.25% v/v of Span 80) were used as the test fluids. The formation of water-in-oil emulsions was observed from low water fractions up to the inversion point. After inversion, unstable water-in-oil in water multiple emulsions were observed under different flow regimes. These regimes depend on the mixture velocity and the local water fraction of the water-in-oil emulsion. The eddy turbulent viscosity calculated using an elliptic-blending k-ε model and the relative viscosity in combination act to explain the enhanced pressure drop observed in the experiments. The inversion process occurred at a constant water fraction (90%) and was triggered by an increase of mixture velocity. No drag reduction effect was detected for the water-in-oil emulsions obtained before inversion.