• miniemulsion;
  • SMX elements;
  • continuous;
  • in-line;
  • in situ;
  • polymerization


The preparation and stabilization of miniemulsion systems using SMX static mixers (in line with a pump and reservoir tank) and in situ generated surfactants is presented. Neutralization of a water-soluble base with an oil-soluble long chain acid, generating a in situ surfactant at the interface, results in rapid stabilization and emulsification compared to preformed surfactant that must diffuse to, then adsorb on the droplets. As the flow rates (50–75 g/s) and number of mixing elements (7–21 SMX mixers) in series increase, the emulsification time reduces by ∼30-folds (14 vs. 0.5 min). The reduction in the emulsification time required to produce a stable emulsion at 75 g/s and 21 mixing elements more than compensated for the higher pressure in the emulsification loop, consuming five times less energy than what would be consumed when working at 50 g/s and 7 SMX elements. Subsequently, with the rapid emulsification step, it was possible to test the feasibility of a continuous process for direct emulsification followed by polymerization. Comparing this process with a batch process, similar results for the number of particles/number of droplets ratio and conversion were obtained, but the continuous process was accomplished in a single step. © 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2011