Effect of Flow Rate Modulation on Alginate Emulsification in Multistage Microfluidics

Yudan Whulanza, Rithwik Chandur Nathani, Klaugusta Adimillenva, Ridho Irwansyah, Retno Wahyu Nurhayati, Muhammad Satrio Utomo, Abdul Halim Abdullah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The encapsulation of stem cells into alginate microspheres is an important aspect of tissue engineering or bioprinting which ensures cell growth and development. We previously demonstrated the encapsulation of stem cells using the hanging drop method. However, this conventional process takes a relatively long time and only produces a small-volume droplet. Here, an experimental approach for alginate emulsification in multistage microfluidics is reported. By using the microfluidic method, the emulsification of alginate in oil can be manipulated by tuning the flow rate for both phases. Two-step droplet emulsification is conducted in a series of polycarbonate and polydimethylsiloxane microfluidic chips. Multistage emulsification of alginate for stem cell encapsulation has been successfully reported in this study under certain flow rates. Fundamental non-dimensional numbers such as Reynolds and capillary are used to evaluate the effect of flow rate on the emulsification process. Reynolds numbers of around 0.5–2.5 for alginate/water and 0.05–0.2 for oil phases were generated in the current study. The capillary number had a maximum value of 0.018 to ensure the formation of plug flow. By using the multistage emulsification system, the flow rates of each process can be tuned independently, offering a wider range of droplet sizes that can be produced. A final droplet size of 500–1000 µm can be produced using flow rates of 0.1–0.5 mL/h and 0.7–2.4 mL/h for the first stage and second stage, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1828
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • alginate
  • double emulsification
  • microfluidics chips
  • stem cell encapsulation


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