The flow of microbubbles in millichannels with typical dimensions in the range of few millimeters offers a reduced pressure loss with simultaneous large specific contact surface. By flowing through micro orifices, the transformation of pressure into kinetic energy creates a desired secondary flow pattern, which results in continuous dispersion. Differences in velocity and pressure act on the phase boundary of the bubbles and lead to deformations and break-up.
In this work, bubble dispersion and bubbly flow in different orifices and channel modules with widths up to 7 mm are studied experimentally and by CFD simulations. The effect of the orifice dimensions on bubble sizes are evaluated for hydraulic diameters of 0.25 to 0.5 mm with different aspect ratios. Several channel structures are analyzed to offer less coalescence and larger residence times. The modules are arranged in a holder and are fixed under a view glass for optical characterization via high-speed camera. Volume flow rates of 10 to 250 mL/min are studied with various phase ratios.
Bubble diameters are generated in the range of less than 0.1 to 0.7 mm with narrow size distributions depending on the entire flow rate through the device. The first break-up point is shifted closer to the outlet of the orifices for increasing velocities and smaller hydraulic diameters, but the whole break-up region stays nearly constant for each orifice indicating stronger velocity oscillations acting on the bubble surface. Generally, a linear relation of smaller bubble diameters with larger energy input was identified.
Opening angles of the orifices above 6° resulted in flow detachments and recirculation zones around the effluent jet. Independence of the Reynolds number was determined contrary to existing literature models. Flow detachment and coalescence in curves was avoided by an additional bend within the curve based on systematically varied geometrical dimensions.