High-Pressure Microfluidics

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: In this thesis, some fundamentals and possible applications of high-pressure microfluidics have been explored. Furthermore, handling fluids at high pressures has been addressed, specifically by creating and characterizing strong microvalves and pumps.A variety of microstructuring techniques was used to realize these microfluidic devices, e.g., etching, lithography, and bonding. To be able to handle high pressures, the valves and pumps need to be strong. This necessitates a strong actuator material. In this thesis, the material of choice is paraffin wax.A new way of latching paraffin-actuated microvalves into either closed or open position has been developed, using the low thermal conductivity of paraffin to create large thermal gradients within a microactuator. This allows for long open and closed times without power consumption.In addition, three types of paraffin-actuated pumps are presented: A peristaltic high-pressure pump with integrated temperature control, a microdispensing pump with high repeatability, and a pump system with two pumps working with an offset to reduce flow irregularities. Furthermore, the fundamental behavior of paraffin as a microactuator material has been explored by finite element modeling.One possibility that arises with high-pressure microfluidics, is the utilization of supercritical fluids for different applications. The unique combination of material properties found in supercritical fluids yields them interesting applications in, e.g., extraction and cleaning. In an attempt to understand the microfluidic behavior of supercritical carbon dioxide, the two-phase flow, with liquid water as the second phase, in a microchannel has been studied and mapped with respect to both flow regime and droplet behavior at a bi-furcating outlet.