Experimental Evidence Of Enhanced Adsorption Dynamics At Liquid-Liquid Interfaces Under An Electric Field


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In this work, we investigate the adsorption of surface-active compounds at the water-oil interface subjected to an electric field. A fluid system comprising a pendent water drop surrounded by an asphaltene-rich organic phase is exposed to a DC uniform electric field. Two subfractions of asphaltenes having contrasting affinities to the water-oil interface are used as surface-active compounds. The microscopic changes in the drop shape, as a result of asphaltene adsorption, are captured and the drop profiles are analyzed using our in-house code for axisymmetric drop shape analysis (ADSA) under an electric field. The estimates of dynamic interfacial tension under different strengths of the field (E-0) and concentrations of the asphaltene subfractions (C) are used to calculate adsorption dynamics and surface excess. The experimental observations and careful analyses of the data suggest that the externally applied electric field significantly stimulates the mass-transfer rate at the liquid-liquid interface. The enhancement in mass transport at the water-oil interface can be attributed to the axisymmetric electrohydrodynamic fluid flows generated on either side of the interface. The boost in mass transport is evident from the growing decay in equilibrium interfacial tension (gamma(eq)) and increased surface excess (Gamma(eq)) upon increasing strength of the applied electric field. The mass-transfer intensification does not increase monotonously with the electric field strength above an optimum E-0, which is in agreement with the previous theoretical studies in the literature. However, these first explicit experimental measurements of adsorption at an interface under an electric field suggest that the optimum E-0 is determined by characteristics of the surface-active molecules.
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