Contactless Method of Emulsion Formation Using Corona Discharge

ACS Omega. 2022 Feb 18;7(8):7045-7056. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.1c06765. eCollection 2022 Mar 1.


Electroemulsification methods use electrohydrodynamic (EHD) forces to manipulate fluids and droplets for emulsion formation. Here, a top-down method is presented using a contactless corona discharge for simultaneous emulsion formation and its pumping/collection. The corona discharge forms using a sharp conductive electrode connected to a high-voltage source that ionizes water vapor droplets (formed by a humidifier) and creates an ionic wind (electroconvection), dragging them into an oil medium. The nonuniform electric field induced by the corona discharge also drives the motion of the oil medium via an EHD pumping effect utilizing a modulated bottom electrode geometry. By these two effects, this contactless method enables the immersion of the water droplets into the moving oil medium, continuously forming a water-in-oil (W/O) emulsion. The impact of corona discharge voltage, vertical and horizontal distances between the two electrodes, and depth of the silicone oil on sizes of the formed emulsions is studied. This is a low-cost and contactless process enabling the continuous formation of the W/O emulsions.