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Recent Developments in Phase Inversion Emulsification

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Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, United States
Manufacturing & Materials Technology Area, Toner Development & Manufacturing Group, Xerox Corporation, Webster, New York 14580, United States
*E-mail: [email protected]. Tel: +1-215-573-4521.
Cite this: Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2015, 54, 34, 8375–8396
Publication Date (Web):August 7, 2015
Copyright © 2015 American Chemical Society

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    Emulsions are multiphasic fluid systems in which liquid droplets are dispersed in another immiscible liquid. The main components of an emulsion are the two liquid phases, typically oil and water, and the emulsifier, which stabilizes the interface between the two liquid phases. Emulsifiers can be a variety of molecules, such as polymers, amphiphilic surfactants, and proteins, and they can also be colloidal particles. Emulsion phase inversion is the process of interconversion between two types of simple emulsions: water-in-oil and oil-in-water emulsions. Phase inversion can be induced by shifting the emulsifier affinity from one phase to the other, which is called transitional phase inversion. It can also be triggered by a change in the water-to-oil ratio of the emulsion, which leads to a process known as catastrophic phase inversion. With recent advances in the stabilization of emulsions using colloidal particles and stimuli-responsive surfactants, numerous novel emulsion systems that undergo emulsion phase inversion by means of various mechanisms have been developed. In this review, we highlight the most recent developments in the field of emulsion phase inversion, focusing on transitional phase inversion, inversion of particle-stabilized emulsions, and flow- and shear-induced phase inversion. We also discuss and compare state-of-the-art analytical methods that have been used to detect and understand the emulsion phase inversion process. Our coverage spans from the early concepts of Bancroft’s rule through the concept of semiquantitative hydrophilic–lipophilic balance to the more recent theoretical models used to predict and control phase inversion phenomena. We conclude this review by presenting an outlook on the future directions and outstanding problems that warrant future investigations to fully understand the mechanism of emulsion phase inversion at the single-droplet level.

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