Spontaneous Emulsification of a Metal Drop Immersed in Slag Due to Dephosphorization: Surface Area Quantification

Andre N. Assis, Jason Warnett, Stephen Spooner, Richard J. Fruehan, Mark A. Williams, Seetharaman Sridhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


When a chemical reaction occurs between two immiscible liquids, mass transfer is continuously taking place at the liquid–liquid interface. Several studies have shown that if the species being exchanged between the two liquids are surface-active, a very pronounced decrease in interfacial tension can occur which can lead to a phenomenon called spontaneous emulsification. In steelmaking, this behavior has been observed for several reactions that involve the transfer of impurities from molten steel to a molten-oxide slag but little quantification has been made. This work focuses on spontaneous emulsification due to the dephosphorization of a Fe-P drop immersed in a basic oxygen furnace type slag. An Au-image furnace attached to a confocal scanning laser microscope was used to rapidly heat and cool the samples at different times, and X-ray computerized tomography was used to perform the surface area calculations of the samples where the slag/steel reaction was allowed to occur for distinct times. The results show that the surface area of the metal drop rapidly increases by over one order of magnitude during the first 60 seconds of the reaction while the chemical reaction is occurring at a fast rate. Once the reaction slows down, approximately after 60 seconds, the droplets start to coalesce back together minimizing the surface area and returning to a geometry close to its equilibrium shape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-576
Number of pages9
JournalMetallurgical and Materials Transactions B: Process Metallurgy and Materials Processing Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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