A microgravity study on packing structure and colloidal stabilization of foams and emulsions

Project 3, Microgravity Study

Project diagram of microgravity study on foams and emulsions

Foams and emulsions appear in many edible food products, such as salad dressing and ice cream, as well as consumer and personal care products, such as shaving creams, cosmetics, and detergents. In addition, they are central to many technologies and industries like distillation, oil recovery, and removal of pollutants from environmental media. In many of these products and processes, microstructure and stabilization of foams and emulsions play critical roles in determining their properties and performance. However, some fundamental questions such as what the most efficient structure is in “very dry” foams and emulsions has been a longstanding problem for over a century. Moreover, as eco-friendly colloids emerge as an alternative stabilizing agent to replace traditional surfactants, how these particles can be optimally designed to stabilize foams and emulsions remains unclear. We are working on filling these knowledge gaps by conducting experiments in the microgravity environment of the ISS National Laboratory. We aim to understand the packing structure of monodisperse foams and emulsions close to the dry limit with zero-fraction of continuous phase. We also investigate whether tailoring/functionalizing the surfaces of colloidal particles to make them rough enhances their ability to stabilize foams and emulsions.

Collaborator: Charles Maldarelli at CCNY