Numerical assessment of ultrasound supported coalescence of water droplets in crude oil

Idowu Adeyemi, Mahmoud Meribout, Lyes Khezzar, Nabil Kharoua, Khalid AlHammadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In this study, a numerical assessment of the coalescence of binary water droplets in water-in-oil emulsion was conducted. The investigation addressed the effect of various parameters on the acoustic pressure and coalescence time of water droplets in oil phase. These include transducer material, initial droplet diameter (0.05–0.2 in), interfacial tension (0.012–0.082 N/m), dynamic viscosity (10.6–530 mPas), temperature (20–100 °C), US (ultra sound) frequency (26.04–43.53 kHz) and transducer power (2.5–40 W). The materials assessed are lead zirconate titanate (PZT), lithium niobate (LiNbO3), zinc oxide (ZnO), aluminum nitride (AlN), polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), and barium titanate (BaTiO3). The numerical simulation of the binary droplet coalescence showed good agreement with experimental data in the literature. The US implementation at a fixed frequency produced enhanced coalescence (t = 5.9–8.5 ms) as compared to gravitational settling (t = 9.8 ms). At different ultrasound (US) frequencies and transducer materials, variation in the acoustic pressure distribution was observed. Possible attenuation of the US waves, and the subsequent inhibitive coalescence effect under various US frequencies and viscosities, were discussed. Moreover, the results showed that the coalescence time reduced across the range of interfacial tensions which was considered. This reduction can be attributed to the fact that lower interfacial tension produces emulsions which are relatively more stable. Hence, at lower interface tension between the water and crude oil, there was more resistance to the coalescence of the water droplets due to their improved emulsion stability. The increment of the Weber number at higher droplet sizes leads to a delay in the recovery of the droplet to spherical forms after their starting deformation. These findings provide significant insights that could aid further developments in demulsification of crude oil emulsions under varying US and emulsion properties.

Original languageBritish English
Article number106085
JournalUltrasonics Sonochemistry
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Coalescence
  • Emulsion
  • Numerical Modeling
  • Transducer
  • Ultrasound


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