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Influence of surfactants on the electrohydrodynamic stretching of water drops in oil


In this paper we present experimental and numerical studies of the electrohydrodynamic stretching of a sub-millimetre-sized salt water drop, immersed in oil with added non-ionic surfactant, and subjected to a suddenly applied electric field of magnitude approaching 1 kV/mm. By varying the drop size, electric field strength and surfactant concentration we cover the whole range of electric capillary numbers (CaE) from 0 up to the limit of drop disintegration. The results are compared with the analytical result by G.I. Taylor (Proc. R. Soc. A280, 383 (1964)) which predicts the asymptotic deformation as a function of CaE. We find that the addition of surfactant damps the transient oscillations and that the drops may be stretched slightly beyond the stability limit found by Taylor. We proceed to study the damping of the oscillations, and show that increasing the surfactant concentration has a dual effect of first increasing the damping at low concentrations, and then increasing the asymptotic deformation at higher concentrations. We explain this by comparing the Marangoni forces and the interfacial tension as the drops deform. Finally, we have observed in the experiments a significant hysteresis effect when drops in oil with large concentration of surfactant are subjected to repeated deformations with increasing electric field strengths. This effect is not attributable to the flow nor the interfacial surfactant transport. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Academic article


  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 206976





  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • SINTEF Energy Research / Gassteknologi
  • SINTEF Energy Research / Elkraftteknologi



Published in

International Journal of Multiphase Flow






96 - 109

View this publication at Cristin