The objective of this proposal is to determine the unknown criteria for convective cross-flow in bicontinuous interfacially jammed emulsion gels (bijels). Based on this, we will answer the question: Can continuously operated interfacial catalysis be realized in bijel cross-flow reactors? Demonstrating this potential will introduce a broadly applicable chemical technology, replacing wasteful chemical processes that require organic solvents. We will achieve our objective in three steps:
(a) Control over bijel structure and properties. Bijels will be formed with a selection of functional inorganic colloidal particles. Nanoparticle surface modifications will be developed and extensively characterized. General principles for the parameters determining bijel structures and properties will be established based on confocal and electron microscopy characterization. These principles will enable unprecedented control over bijel formation and will allow for designing desired properties.
(b) Convective flow in bijels. The mechanical strength of bijels will be tailored and measured. With mechanically robust bijels, the influence of size and organization of oil/water channels on convective mass transfer in bijels will be investigated. To this end, a bijel mass transfer apparatus fabricated by 3d-printing of bijel fibers and soft photolithography will be introduced. In conjunction with the following objective, the analysis of convective flows in bijels will facilitate a thorough description of their structure/function relationships.
(c) Biphasic chemical reactions in STrIPS bijel cross-flow reactors. First, continuous extraction in bijels will be realized. Next, conditions to carry out continuously-operated, phase transfer catalysis of well-known model reactions in bijels will be determined. Both processes will be characterized in-situ and in 3-dimensions by confocal microscopy of fluorescent phase transfer reactions in transparent bijels.
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