Dispersion and mixing dynamics of complex oil-in-water emulsions in Taylor-Couette flows

Vishal Panwar, Cassandra N. Vargas, Cari S. Dutcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The seminal study by G. I. Taylor (1923) has inspired generations of work in exploring and characterizing Taylor-Couette (TC) flow instabilities and laid the foundation for research of complex fluid systems requiring a controlled hydrodynamic environment. Here, TC flow with radial fluid injection is used to study the mixing dynamics of complex oil-in-water emulsions. Concentrated emulsion simulating oily bilgewater is radially injected into the annulus between rotating inner and outer cylinders, and the emulsion is allowed to disperse through the flow field. The resultant mixing dynamics are investigated, and effective intermixing coefficients are calculated through measured changes in the intensity of light reflected by the emulsion droplets in fresh and salty water. The impacts of the flow field and mixing conditions on the emulsion stability are tracked via changes in droplet size distribution (DSD), and the use of emulsified droplets as tracer particles is discussed in terms of changes in the dispersive Péclet, Capillary and Weber numbers. For oily wastewater systems, the formation of larger droplets is known to yield better separation during a water treatment process, and the final DSD observed here is found to be tunable based on salt concentration, observation time and mixing flow state in the TC cell. This article is part of the theme issue 'Taylor-Couette and related flows on the centennial of Taylor's seminal Philosophical Transactions paper (Part 2)'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20220128
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2246
StatePublished - May 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the Humphreys Engineer Center Support Activity under initial contract No. W912HQ18C0024 and follow-on contract No. W912HQ20C0041, corresponding to the DOD Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) initial project WP18-1031 and follow-on project WP19-1407, respectively. Portions of this work were conducted in the Minnesota Nano Center, which is supported by the National Science Foundation through the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) under Award Number ECCS-2025124. In addition, C.V. contributed to the work during a summer research experience at the University of Minnesota, supported by the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program of the National Science Foundation under Award Number DMR-1852044 and through the University of Minnesota MRSEC under Award Number DMR-2011401. Acknowledgement

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s).


  • Taylor-Couette flow
  • dispersion coefficient
  • emulsion stability
  • navy standard bilge mix

MRSEC Support

  • Partial

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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