Air Assisted Production of Alginate Beads Using Focusing Flow Microfluidic Devices: Numerical Modeling of Beads Formation

  • Francesco Marra
  • Angela De Vivo
  • Fabrizio SarghiniEmail author
Part of the Lecture Notes in Bioengineering book series (LNBE)


Alginate micro-bead production represents an interesting technological application in many fields such as pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetics. Usually the studies of micro droplet or micro-bead creation in micro channels formed in different geometries and different techniques (mostly T channel or flow-focusing) have been the subject of many research studies using pure, well characterized solutions and do not take into account the behavior and interaction of food grade and natural products. The possibility of using air as focusing flow [2] in microfluidic devices to produce sodium alginate micro-bead introduce some advantages; for example, the utilization of different focusing fluids like oil frequently requires complicate production processes, introducing a barrier to the interaction of alginate solution with the calcium ions during gelification phase and requiring a posteriori filtering and washing procedure. Moreover, direct immersion of liquid alginate drops in a calcium chloride bath to induce gelification usually happens at relatively high speed, inducing a bead shape deformation due to inertial effects. As in microfluidics details really matter, the geometry of the device represents an important issue: small changes in geometrical configuration, like coaxial misalignment could results in major changes in the dynamics of droplet formation. In this work such effects are investigated using numerical analysis.


Alginate beads Pre-gelation Microfluidic Numerical modeling 


  1. 1.
    Babak, V.G., Skotnikova, E.A., Lukina, I.G., Pelletier, S., Hubert, P., Dellacheriey, E.: Hydrophobically associating alginate derivatives: surface tension properties of their mixed aqueous solutions with oppositely charged surfactants. J. Colloid Interface Sci. 225, 505–510 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bong, K.W., Chapin, S.C., Pregibon, D.C., Baah, D., Floyd-Smith, T.M., Doyle, P.S.: Compressed-air flow control system. Lab Chip 11, 743–747 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Denaro, F.M., Sarghini, F.: 2-d transmitral flows simulation by means of the immersed boundary method on unstructured grids. Int. J. Numer. Meth. Fluids 38, 1133–1157 (2002)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hirt, C.W., Nichols, B.D.: Volume of fluid (VOF) method for the dynamics of free boundaries. J. Comput. Phys. 39(1), 201–225 (1981)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    OpenFoam v.2.2.0, (2013). A free open source CFD code.
  6. 6.
    Schneider, T., Chapman, G.H., Häfeli, U.O.: Effects of chemical and physical parameters in the generation of microspheres by Hydrodynamic flow focusing. Colloids Surf., B 87, 361–368 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Sarghini, F., Piomelli, U., Balaras, E.: Scale-similar models for large eddy simulations. Phys. Fluids 11(6), 1596–1607 (1999)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sarghini, F.: Microfluidic encapsulation process. In: M. Mishra (ed.) Handbook of Encapsulation and Controlled Release, CRC Press, Boca Raton, USA (2015)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Tabeei, A., Samimi, A., Khorram, M., Moghadam, H.: Study pulsating electrospray of non-Newtonian and thixotropic sodium alginate solution. J. Electrost. 70, 77–82 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco Marra
    • 1
  • Angela De Vivo
    • 2
  • Fabrizio Sarghini
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Ingegneria IndustrialeUniversità Degli Studi Di SalernoFiscianoItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di AgrariaUniversity of Naples “Federico II”PorticiItaly

Personalised recommendations