Effects of Mixed Stabilizers (Nanoparticles and Surfactant) on Phase Inversion and Stability of Emulsions
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Immiscible dispersions of oil and water are encountered in many industries such as food, pharmaceuticals, and petroleum. Phase inversion is a key phenomenon that takes place in such systems whereby the dispersed phase and the continuous phase invert spontaneously. Stabilizers such as surfactants or solid nanoparticles have been used in the past to improve the stability of emulsions. However, the combined effects of surfactants and nanoparticles on phase inversion and stability of oil and water emulsions have not been studied. This study investigates the synergistic effects of silica nanoparticles (of varying hydrophobicities) and non-ionic surfactant on phase inversion of water-in-oil emulsion to oil-in-water emulsion. The effect of oil viscosity on phase inversion phenomenon is also studied. Stabilizers were initially dispersed in the oil phase with the help of a homogenizer. The water concentration of the system was gradually increased while maintaining the mixing. Online conductivity measurements were carried out to obtain the phase inversion point. Experimental results on the effects of pure stabilizers (either silica nanoparticles or surfactant) and mixed stabilizers (combined silica nanoparticles and surfactant) on phase inversion of emulsions are presented. The stability of these emulsions is also investigated. From the results obtained in this study it is clear that catastrophic phase inversion phenomenon and stability of water-in-oil emulsions can be controlled with the help of different stabilizers. In order to extend the critical dispersed phase volume fraction at which phase inversion occurs surfactant type stabilizer was found to be more effective than solid nanoparticles. On the other hand, emulsion stability was mainly dominated by solid nanoparticles. The hybrid of the two stabilizers and its effect on phase inversion and stability are discussed in the thesis.