Counter-Current Fluid-Fluid Flows Mixer (C2F3M)
The process of mixing fluids, or fluids and particulates, is critical in biology, chemistry, medicine, and engineering and in numerous applications involving the synthesis of pharmaceuticals, flows through biomedical devices, the fabrication of materials, the food industry, and contamination of the environment. Mixing processes may occur in equipment spanning many length scales ranging from industrial macrosystems such as stirred tank rectors and separation columns, to microsystems such as microfluidic chips and catheterization devices. In many industrial systems mixing is induced by vigorous agitation (shearing) of the fluids being mixed using moving parts such as paddles or energetic jet streams. There are many applications, however, where the shear induced by such mechanisms is detrimental to the fluids being mixed (e.g. fluids containing cells in suspension).
Dr. Joseph Humphrey, Wade Professor of Engineering and Applied Science and a faculty member in both the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Department of Biology at the University of Virginia, has developed a device, the Counter-Current Fluid-Fluid-Flows Mixer (C2F3M) that effectively and efficiently mixes fluids while preserving their integrity. The C2F3M has numerous advantages including the fact that it can operate over a large range of geometrical and dynamical scales. Other compelling advantages offered by the C2F3M technology include:
• Allows real time control of mixing conditions, which is unique to the device.
• Passively accomplishes mixing (no moving parts)
• Can be used for heat and or mass exchange purposes
• Can be used as a chemical reactor, including combustion applications
• Operates over all practical values of the Reynolds number
• Applies to macro-scale industrial equipment to micro-scale biomedical devices
• Can carry both liquid or gaseous fluid streams
• May carry particulates in suspension
• Can be mass produced or custom fabricated from a large range of materials
• Can be easily instrumented for flow, heat, and mass transfer measurements
The mixer Dr. Humphrey has designed is as versatile as it is optimal in its design. Its characteristics lend themselves to a wide range of applications, including diffusion-controlled micro scale mixing. As new microtechnology devices, processes, and applications are developed, the mixing principles embedded in the C2F3M will be critical for effectively controlled and efficient mixing.
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