Contactless Method for Electrocoalescence of Water in Oil

ACS Omega. 2021 May 28;6(22):14298-14308. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.1c01072. eCollection 2021 Jun 8.


This paper discusses an experimental approach to study the effects of a contactless method on electrocoalescence of water-in-oil mixture/emulsion. A positive corona discharge is utilized using a sharp conductive needle without direct contact with the mixture/solution to avoid potential corrosion of the electrode. This creates a nonuniform electric field, which is further used for the coalescence of water droplets in the range of micro to macro in oil. Two approaches are employed in this study: qualitative analysis conducted by visually studying coalescence patterns in videos captured with a high-speed camera and a quantitative analysis based on calculations obtained from dynamic light scattering measurements. From the behavior of the water droplets under the electric field, it is observed that dipole-dipole interaction, migratory coalescence/electrophoresis, and dielectrophoresis have major roles in promoting the coalescence events. The effects of oil viscosity and power consumption on the coalescence rate are also investigated, suggesting an optimal oil-water separation process. The results of this study pave a path for developing a safe, contactless, rapid, and low-power-consuming separation process, potentially suitable for an offsite application.