Background: In conventional two-phase separation, mass transport between two phases can be intensified via increased surface area, usually in the form of smaller droplets or bubbles. The increase in the interfacial surface area typically results in higher energy cost due to agitation, slower processing time for gravity separation, or increased energy requirements through centrifugal extraction.

Solution: To address these challenges in two-phase separation, RAPID member Oregon State University is developing a flexible yet standardized platform for multiphase separation utilizing microchannel processing technology (MPT). Multiphase Microchannel Separation in MPT systems directs the flow of each phase by creating a capillary force gradient via size and spacing of micro-scale architectural features, thereby controlling capillary forces. With the proper choice of surface properties, the system is designed to guide the fluid via capillary forces towards a selected outlet stream.

This technology has already shown a several hundred-fold increase in mass transfer coefficient, resulting in a faster process time, a higher throughput per unit, and will allow the hardware to be significantly smaller and less expensive to produce. RAPID is interested in this technology for its potential to improve energy efficiency and reduce the size and cost of Liquid-Liquid Extraction (LLE). LLE plays a standard role in many chemical and pharmaceutical industries, for example, acetic acid production, biofuels production, and metal production/recovery.

For more information about the project and its team, click here.