Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering (MSChE)

Degree Level



Chemical Engineering


Karthik Nayani

Committee Member

Tom O. Spicer

Second Committee Member

Jamie Hestekin

Third Committee Member

Paneer R. Selvam


Metal extraction, Oil-water interfaces, Surface instabilities


Fluid-fluid interactions are such a wide area and can be observed in different scenarios such as geothermal systems, waterflooding of reservoirs, oil recovery, and water treatment processes. This thesis aims to deepen the understanding of fluid-fluid interactions which include Marangoni flows, charge related instabilities, and surface activity. This thesis studied the interactions of micrometer-sized droplets of an oil (toluene) with surfactant Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phosphoric acid (DEHPA) in the aqueous phase. One of the main goals is to understand several surface-driven instabilities and how those can be manipulated for future applications.Furthermore, this thesis aims to use these oil-surfactant droplets as a medium to extract metal ions from water and rocks. Several methods have been developed over time to treat high heavy metal concentrations, which can be used for wastewater treatment. Arkansas is a state with abundant surface water resources, including rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, wetlands, and large amounts of sub-surface groundwater. There is a high concentration of cadmium, copper, lead, zinc, and other metals in the upper Arkansas River due to the runoff from abandoned mines and tailings piles in the Leadville area. Therefore, the objective of this thesis is to use the oil-surfactant droplets as a method for metal extraction especially since it has not been implemented in Arkansas yet. Several experiments were performed for the metal extraction analysis. Metal ion compounds that included Na+1, K+1, Mg+2, Cu+2, and Zn+2 were used. Concentrations of the different metal ions were measured after extraction using Ion Chromatography (IC) and Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) to compare and analyze which metal ion was extracted the most. This thesis also includes a section of some experiments performed with rock samples provided to us by a company located in Arkansas. Our oil-surfactant method was tested to see how effective extraction could be carried out with unknown samples. Therefore, results for the company’s samples will be further discussed in this work along with a detailed explanation of the experiments.

Available for download on Monday, February 17, 2025