Liquid-Liquid Flow in a Capillary Microreactor: Hydrodynamic Flow Patterns and Extraction Performance

J. Jovanovic, Evgeny Rebrov, T.A. Nijhuis, M.T. Kreutzer, V. Hessel, J.C. Schouten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


The capillary micro reactor, with four stable operating flow patterns and a throughput range from grams per hour to kilograms per hour, presents an attractive alternative to chip-based and microstructured reactors for laboratory- and pilot-scale applications. In this article, results for the extraction of 2-butanol from toluene under different flow patterns in a water/toluene flow in long capillary microreactors are presented. The effects of the capillary length (0.4-2.2 m), flow rate (0.1-12 mL/min), and aqueous-to-organic volumetric flow ratio (0.25-9) on the slug, bubbly, parallel, and annular flow hydrodynamics were investigated. Weber-number-dependent flow maps were composed for capillary lengths of 0.4 and 2 m that were used to interpret the flow pattern formation in terms of surface tension and inertia forces. When the capillary length was decreased from 2 to 0.4 m, a transition from annular to parallel flow was observed. The capillary length had little influence on slug and bubbly flows. The flow patterns were evaluated in terms of stability, surface-to-volume ratio, throughput, and extraction efficiency. Slug and bubbly flow operations yielded 100% thermodynamic extraction efficiency, and increasing the aqueous-to-organic volumetric ratio to 9 allowed for 99% 2-butanol extraction. The parallel and annular flow operating windows were limited by the capillary length, thus yielding maximum 2-butanol extractions of 30% and 47% for parallel and annular flows, respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1020-1031
Number of pages12
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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