Dynamics of colloids in phase separation

Our ability to understand and control interfacial phenomena on nano- to micro- scale is of extreme importance for efficient extraction, separation, processing and recycling of natural resources. Paraffinic froth treatment in oil sands extraction relies on strong colloidal association between water droplets, fine particles and aspaltene precipitates to produce bitumen of high quality. However, it remains challenging to quantitatively understand the dynamics of early stage phase separation in multicomponent liquid systems, due to the very small length scale, short time scale and complexity in chemical compositions. In this project, we will make use of state-of-the-art experimental technique and comprehensive numerical simulation approach to investigate microscopic dynamics during early stage phase separation. The findings may be valuable for rational design of solvent mixing process in phase separation.