Micro process technology focuses on process enhancement by rapid mixing and exact temperature control for chemical reactions or upstream processing. Yet only few examples show the capabilities of microtechnology in downstream processing. One of the most important unit operations in this area is the separation of phases. Separation devices on the micro scale are so far not commercially available, which makes it difficult or even impossible to realize complex processes entirely within a micro reaction plant.
Within this paper a micro hydro cyclone will be presented being the first separation device on the micro scale. It has been investigated experimentally with respect to its separation capabilities for separating liquid-liquid dispersions with different densities of the phases. The investigations show the capability of micro hydro cyclones for mechanical separation of liquid-liquid dispersions. Further potential has been proved by classification and size reduction of droplets as well as the classification of solid particles.
The study shows new possibilities in processing multiphase flows in micro components. Especially the capability of using micro process devices in downstream processing has proved the future potential of this technology. In the near future devices like the micro cyclone from Ehrfeld Mikrotechnik BTS may enable the realization of complex chemical engineering processes with separation steps on the micro scale.