Levich Institute Seminar – Tuesday, 10/23/2018

Levich Institute Seminar Announcement, 10/23/2018

Tuesday, 10/23/2018
2:00 PM
Steinman Hall, Room #312
(Chemical Engineering Conference Room)


Professor Jeff Harwell
University of Oklahoma
Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering Department

“Microemulsions: Definition, Properties, Modeling, and Design”



A microemulsion is defined as an equilibrium dispersion of oil, water, and surfactant. Despite the name, domain sizes in microemulsion vary widely, depending on the system, so that microemulsions may be transparent to opaque. Microemulsions were first studied by Paul Winsor in the 1950s, but only became a focus of extensive research with the proposal for their use in the enhanced production of crude oil in the 1970s. Since that time there has been an explosion of applications of microemulsions, and a corresponding increase in the understanding, modeling, and design of microemulsions. Over the last decade there has been particular progress in predicting microemulsion properties using the Hydrophilic Lipophilic Deviation (HLD) equation introduced by Salager, in combination with the Net-Average Curvature (NAC) critical scaling model proposed by Acosta. Combined with innovations in determining the relationship between surfactant structure and HLD parameters, the field is on the verge of a revolution in designing surfactants for a wide range of applications. An example of the use of microemulsion theory will be given in the design of a shear-thickening emulsion, which forms stable, oil-swollen, wormlike micelles when sheared.


Jeffrey Harwell received his doctoral degree in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983. During his 36 years at the University of Oklahoma he has been an author on over 200 refereed publications, holds over 40 issued patents, and has founded several technology start-ups. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He received the 1984 Victor K. LaMer Award from the American Chemical Society. He has served as Program Director of the Interfacial, Transport, and Separation Processes Program at the National Science Foundation, and chaired the 65th ACS Colloid and Surface Science Symposium. He received Outstanding Paper awards from the National AlChE Meeting in 1992 and 1996 and the AOCS Soap and Detergent Association Distinguished Paper Award in 2003. He was recognized for an Outstanding Ground Water Remediation Project by the National Ground Water Association in 2006 for his work with Surbec Environmental, LLC.


Professor Harwell’s research concerns surfactants and their applications, including consumer products, microemulsions, nanoparticles, environmental remediation, and oil production. 

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