Experiments in Fluids, 50(2): 259-269 (link)
An online measurement technique for drop size distribution in stirred tank reactors is needed but has not yet been developed. Different approaches and different techniques have been published as the new standard during the last decade. Three of them (focus beam reflectance measurement, two-dimensional optical reflectance measurement techniques and a fiber optical FBR sensor) are tested, and their results are compared with trustful image analysis results from an in situ microscope. The measurement of drop sizes in liquid/liquid distribution is a major challenge for all tested measurement probes, and none provides exact results for the tested system of pure toluene/water compared to an endoscope. Not only the size analysis but also the change of the size over time gives unreasonable results. The influence of the power input on the drop size distribution was the only reasonable observation in this study. The FBR sensor was not applicable at all to the used system. While all three probes are based on laser back scattering, the general question of the usability of this principle for measuring evolving drop size distributions in liquid/liquid system is asked. The exterior smooth surface of droplets in such systems is leading to strong errors in the measurement of the size of the drops. That leads to widely divergent results. A different measurement principle should be used for online measurements of drop size distributions than laser back scattering.