Microfluidic droplet-based liquid–liquid extraction: online model validation
Droplet-based liquid–liquid extraction in a microchannel was studied, both theoretically and experimentally. A full 3D mathematical model, incorporating convection and diffusion in all spatial directions along with the velocity profile, was developed to depict the governing transport characteristics of droplet-based microfluidics. The finite elements method, as the most common macroscale simulation technique, was used to solve the set of differential equations regarding conservation of moment, mass and solute concentration in a two-domain system coupled by interfacial surface of droplet-based flow pattern. The model was numerically verified and validated online by following the concentrations of a solute in two phases within the microchannel. The relative azobenzene concentration profiles in a methanol/n-octane two-phase system at different positions along the channel length were retrieved by means of a thermal lens microscopic (TLM) technique coupled to a microfluidic system, which gave results of high spatial and temporal resolution. Very good agreement between model calculations and online experimental data was achieved without applying any fitting procedure to the model parameters.