(533c) Multiphase Microchannel Separation Utilizing Capillary Pressure Gradients

Coblyn, M., Oregon State University
Jovanovic, G., Oregon State University
Zoebelein, C., Oregon State University
A flexible, modular platform for multiphase separation is being developed for downstream processing that shows potential for significant reduction of capital cost and energy expenditure compared to conventional technology. The separator utilizes microchannel processing technology (MPT) to direct flow of each phase by creating a capillary force gradient via size and spacing of micro-scale architectural features, thereby controlling interfacial curvatures. With a proper selection of surface properties, the system is designed so that a selected phase cannot overcome capillary forces (in one direction of the gradient) with inertial and viscous forces of flow, guiding the fluid towards one outlet stream. The separator uses a flat “Lamina Plate” design that can accommodate a larger processing throughput per layer of device compared to single microchannel configurations. Microchannel-based separation presents significant gains in process intensification by accelerating mass transport and decreasing energy input per liquid volume compared to conventional methods. Beyond energy consumption, the scalable, distributed nature of MPT makes it amenable to distributed, smaller chemical manufacturing.