Transferring a substance, solved in one fluid, to another fluid: this happens in nano droplets as well as in chemical reactors that are meters high. Prof Detlef Lohse (MESA+) wants to thoroughly understand this process.
Bridging the gap
‘Liquid liquid extraction’ is a core process in chemistry. A substance that is solved in one fluid, ‘moves’ to another fluid when there’s contact between both fluids. It is a common technique in the paint and coating industry, in food processing and lots of other applications. At the same time, deep insight in the dynamics of this is lacking. This causes current applications to be mainly of a ‘trial-and-error’ nature, while the lack of knowledge seriously delays new and maybe promising applications. Detlef Lohse, Physics of Fluids Professor at the University of Twente, wants to bridge this gap developing new fundamental insights and experiments in the field of diffusive droplet dynamics. He is planning to do this on length scales varying 9 orders of magnitude: from nanometers to meters.
Complex droplet dynamics
Lohse’s group is known for its research on, for example, droplets on a surface. An example that illustrates work on fluids with multiple solvents, is the recent work on a simple drop of the ouzo drink, evaporating on a surface. This droplet contains water, alcohol and anise oil. Thanks to experiments, simulations and new theory, the fluid physicists know what happens inside the drop. Where do the components move inside the drop, and what would be the best timing for transferring one of them to another liquid? An experiment that looks trivial, in reality gives detailed insight in the complex dynamics inside a droplet. Better understand will, according to Lohse, lead to more applications of liquid-liquid extraction in micro and nano fluidics as well.
Detlef Lohse was appointed Professor of Physics of Fluids at the University of Twente in 1998. In 2005, UT appointed him distinguished university professor. In 2010, Lohse received his first ERC Advanced Grant. He also received the Spinoza prize, and he is a Simon Stevin Master. Lohse initiated the recently opened Max Planck - University of Twente Center for Complex Fluid Dynamics.