A quick method to fabricate large glass micromodel networks
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The study of multi-phase fluid flow in microfluidic devices provides an opportunity for researchers to characterize effective factors and mechanisms in microscale. The application of microtechnology in various fields of science and engineering has always raised different technical problems that require further research and developments. This paper aims to address the associated challenges with micromodel studies that employ the chemical (wet) etching method for making glass micromodels. To overcome these challenges, recent advances in chemical etching are modified and combined to decrease the construction time and costs. The general steps in the chemical etching process are masking, etching, and bonding. First, the common masking step [projecting the designed pattern (regular or irregular) on the acid-resistant layer] in this work is simplified by engraving the mirror plates with a CO2 laser. This new technique skips the required facilities for photoresist layer deposition and UV lithography by using direct laser beam machining of pre-coated soda lime glasses (mirror). Moreover, the variety of mirror products and flexible functionality of laser machines make it possible to create larger size models with any desirable flow pattern. Next, the general composition of solution used in the etching step and the operating conditions of thermal bonding step are modified based on recent investigations in literature to enhance the mechanical strength of the micromodel. Finally, the fabricated model with this procedure is applied in a two-phase flow visualization study to examine the practical features under experimental conditions.
The authors would like to thank Chevron Canada, Hibernia Management and Development Company (HMDC), Research and Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador (RDC), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for financial support. We thank our colleagues in the Hibernia EOR Research Group for their technical assistance.
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