Coalescence and Break-Up Behaviors of Nanodroplets under AC Electric Field

FH Song and RF Chen and G Wang and J Fan and H Niu, MOLECULES, 28, 3064 (2023).

DOI: 10.3390/molecules28073064

Water must be separated from water-in-oil (W/O) emulsion because of the corrosion it brings to the relative equipment in the process of transportation and storage. It is an effective method to apply external electric field to achieve high performance of separating small, dispersed water droplets from W/O emulsion; however, the coalescing micromechanism of such small salty droplets under AC electric field is unclear. In this paper, molecular dynamics simulation was adopted to investigate the coalescence and separation process of two NaCl-aqueous droplets under AC electric field and discuss the effect of AC electric field frequency, as well as the time required for contacting, the critical electric field strength, the dynamic coalescence process and the stability of the final merged droplet. The results show that the critical electric field strength of the droplet coalescence increases with the increase of frequency, while the time required for droplet contacting becomes shorter. The shrinkage function curve was applied to characterize the droplet coalescence effect and it was found that the droplets coalescence and form a nearly spherical droplet under the AC electric field with a frequency of 1.25 GHz and strength of 0.5 V/nm. When the electric field frequency is 10 GHZ, the merged droplet presents a periodic fluctuation with the same period as the AC electric field, which mainly depends on the periodic movement of cations and anions under the AC electric field. The results can provide theoretical basis for the practical application of electrostatic demulsification technology in the petroleum or chemical industry from the microscopic perspective.

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