It is a beautiful Saturday evening, and a bunch of kids are playing seek while I am trying to get some jogging done. The game goes like this: All the children run away and hide themselves and the “denner” is appointed the task of weeding them out from the hide-outs. each time a kid is spotted, he is shot at with a “bubble gun”. The game was progressing well till the “soap” got over. The kids tried with multiple conventional soaps, but they did not get the desired result. In the end, they played catch and went to their respective homes. Sounds familiar?
So why did the conventional soaps not work?
“Foam or lather is created when foaming agents in soaps, detergents and shampoos mix with air and water. The most common foaming agents used in personal care are chemicals sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), sodium lauryl sulphate (sometimes referred to as sodium dodecyl sulfate or SLS) and coco-glucoside”- Stephenson
But when air bubbles are formed in the tube of the bubble gun, it does not allow for jet spray of bubbles. Similarly, in industrial processes, formation of foam is undesirable. Foaming affects almost every industrial sector from Pharmaceuticals to textiles, mining to brewing, paints to waste-water treatment, from Oil and Gas to food industry and so on.
What does excess/ undesirable quantities of foam do?
Simply put, it negatively affects the throughput of the process and reduces the productive volume. It also damages process equipment and leaves surface defects. Foam is undesirable and must be removed.
So how do we do it?
This can be easily remedied by using suitable Antifoaming agents and the more commonly called Defoaming agents.
But first, let us understand what a Surfactant is.
A Surface-Active Agent or a Surfactant is a substance that reduces the surface tension between two immiscible substances such as oil and water, thereby making them miscible. Theoretically, any substance that reduces the surface tension between two substances is a Surfactant. Practically, however, surfactants have wide applications ranging from emulsifiers, wetting agents, dispersing agents and foaming agents.
A Defoamer and or Antifoam is also a surfactant. A universal fact of any Defoamer is that it is Surface Active.
Mechanism of De-foaming/ Antifoaming
To understand this, let us understand the physical properties of the foam. Typically, foam is made up of an unstable, two-phase medium of gas and liquid with a complete structure made up of gas pockets trapped in a vast network of plateau borders and thin liquid films. The following conditions are necessary for foam production: a liquid and a gas, agitation, and surfactants.
What should be understood is that there is a natural drainage between the bubbles (along the thin film of liquid) from top to down, which creates a density gradient through the foam column. As the film becomes thinner till the point that it is unable to support the bubbles, the foam collapses. Ultimately an equilibrium is formed between the material collapse and the new foam that builds on the surface.
Our Defoamers/Antifoams get absorbed into the bubble surfaces (keeping the foam stabilising agent as a preference) and speed up the drainage rate, which makes the bubbles collapse quickly. This process is hugely dramatic and quite a sight to watch!
Studies show that companies all over the world spend billions dealing with foam and its effects on their businesses. It is also necessary to select the right type of defoamer.
Factors that must be considered are:
Compatibility with your existing process
Will there be any residual matter?
Any negative downstream effects?
Let us take you through our Defoamers Range:
POLLY – SD: Chemically inert, non-toxic; high concentration Silicone De-foamer; Used in a variety of foaming systems; anhydrous defoaming agent, can be incorporated into non-structured liquid detergents for foam control and polymer dispersions for de-aeration; regulates surfactant -based formulations particularly liquid detergents; versatile product; can us used for all dispersions including in construction industry, masonry, paints, and adhesives. Available in various concentrations.
POLLY- PA- 40: Non-Ionic, non-silicon Defoamer for use across various industries
POLLY- UCN: Polyglycol-based Defoamer used in all industries, particularly in pharmaceuticals.
POLLY- DSI: Cost-effective Modern Defoamer; non-hazardous; highly effective; SILICONE BASED, for use in the sugar industry
POLLY- TRO: Time-tested, non-hazardous; defoaming agent; OIL BASED
Connect with us to know more about how you can prevent the effects of foam on industrial processes which if not checked in time, the losses to your business are both tangible and intangible.
This “mountain” of a problem can be taken care of by using “just a stone’s drop” of our highly effective defoamers/ antifoams. Look forward to hearing from you!
The Article is contributed by Payal Gunaki. Payal is a women entrepreneur who has expertise in chemical formulations and manufacturing processes.