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What Is Microemulsion?
The term ‘microemulsion’ refers to thermodynamically stable liquid mixtures of oil, water and surfactant. Unlike an ordinary emulsion, microemulsions require only the simple mixing of the various components and don’t need any high shear mixing conditions.
The aqueous phase of a microemulsion might contain salts along with other ingredients, and the oil part might be formed from a mixture of olefins and hydrocarbons.
Microemulsions are used for several different commercial products and processes. Some of the more common include:
- Floor polishes and cleaners
- Personal care products
- Cutting oils
- Pesticide formulas
- Water-in-oil mixtures for certain dry cleaning processes
- Cosmetics – Many skincare products use microemulsions in the belief there will be a faster uptake into the skin.
- Food – Some foods contain microemulsions naturally, and microemulsions form in your intestine as you absorb and digest fats.
- Pharmaceuticals – Pharmaceutical preparations are big users of liquid crystalline, miceller and emulsion forming systems. Many different types of drugs are prepared in this fashion.
- Environmental detoxification – Microemulsions have been shown to be effective in the area of soil washing. This is where organic pollutants are detached from the soil by way of mechanical energy input.
- Analytical applications
- Fuels – One of the benefits of using fuels that are based on microemulsions is that the presence of water helps to reduce the formation of soot. During combustion, the water that’s present is vaporized, meaning the heat that’s released as a result will be lower. Because of this lower temperature, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide rates will decrease. The presence of the water is also supposed to improve fuel economy.
- Coatings & textile finishing
Enhanced Oil Recovery
Microemulsions can help with enhanced oil recovery in situations where much of the underground oil would remain unrecoverable. High interfacial tension is used to trap the oil in the reservoir between the crude oil and reservoir brine. If that interfacial tension can be reduced from 20-25 mN/m to 10-3 mN/m, much of the residual oil in the porous media can be mobilized.
The micro emulsion process is present in many different areas, and although most of us are unaware that it is even in play, it is usually making a difference.
This post is brought to you by Lauren Conrad, an expert medical technician with 10 years in the industry. He recommends Microfluidics Corporation for high shear fluid processors to conduct micro emulsion, cell disruption and more!