TPG-6 Pressure Drop and Heat Transfer: Oil-in-Water Emulsions

J. W. Palen

Emulsions are a special case of immiscible mixtures, characterized by very small droplet sizes. They are encountered in many industries, including food processing, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and petroleum refining. More effective design of heat exchangers for process streams such as those encountered in petroleum-water separation processes are especially significant in the petroleum refining and tar-sands extraction industries. This report discusses the unique physical properties of oil-in-water emulsions that are necessary for calculating pressure drop and heat transfer rates.

A literature review, including more recent advanced physical property methods, showed that the very small droplet sizes characterizing emulsions might significantly affect physical properties and that new recommendations were required, especially for viscosity. Emulsion viscosity was shown to increase dramatically with increases in dispersed phase volume fraction for emulsions with a high ratio of dispersed phase to continuous phase viscosities. Other properties were affected to a lesser extent, as illustrated by a calculated example.