Addition of surfactants to liquids helps to eliminate intermittent two-phase flow patterns and alleviate flow instability. These features are very desirable for two-phase microfluidic applications. However, very little information is available on two-phase flow patterns of surfactant solution in the microchannels. The present paper reports a study of adiabatic two-phase flow with surfactants in a circular microchannel of a 180-μm diameter. Air-water mixtures with trace quantities of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) were used in the experiments. The maximum superficial velocities measured were 4 m/s for the liquid and 65 m/s for the gas. High-speed photographic technique was employed to visualize various two-phase flow patterns and to identify the transition boundaries between different flow regimes. The results were compared to data obtained from air-water flow without surfactants. It was found that addition of surfactants brings in significant modification to the two-phase flow regimes as well as their transition characteristics in microchannels; in particular, slug flow is effectively suppressed.

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