In the industrial sector, there are numerous processes in which reactions with foam formation occur. Even laymen know this. For example, if you throw a Mentos lozenge into a bottle of Coca Cola, you will see a brown fountain of foam right in front of you. That means it happens faster than you think and the reaction can be violent. Certainly, this is not always intentional. Foam that expands rapidly needs a lot of space. Containers would quickly overflow. For this reason, chemists have developed anti-foaming agents.
Why does foam form?
The main cause of foam formation is the penetration or presence of air into a liquid. There it is displaced or agitated by movement. This creates many small bubbles that can be visually recognised as a foam mass. Such foam formation is seen as a problem in the industrial sector because operational processes could be negatively affected.
Typical triggers for foam are:
Surfactants are found in every detergent, shampoo or dishwashing liquid. They are the reason why it bubbles so nicely in the sink or bathroom.
Proteins and starches are mainly found in the food industry. They are components of numerous dishes. For this reason, antifoaming agents are standard there. Otherwise, the food could not be prepared the way it is sold.
What types of antifoam agents are there?
Basically, there are two different types of foam. There is macro-foam, which is openly visible on the surface, and micro-foam, which is dispersed in the liquid. The purpose of a defoamer is to ensure that the small bubbles burst or do not form at all. The technical term for this is that the agents should have an interfacial activity.
When using antifoam agents, it is important to pay attention to where the products are used. The following solutions are available:
- Antifoam agents with silicone and without silicone.
- There are space-saving concentrates that have to be prepared before use or ready-to-use products
- Natural oils or mineral oil products
- Powder, granules or liquid emulsions
The application always depends on whether the defoamer is used for industrial purposes or whether it is used in products that someone will later wear on their skin or even consume. Depending on this, certain variants may not be used or may be used exclusively.
Incidentally, there are even defoamers in the pharmaceutical industry. Such drugs ensure that the large air bubbles in the intestinal tract dissolve. They serve as an effective antidote to painful flatulence.
Accordingly, it is important that the manufacturer of the antifoaming agent is certified and not only follows important quality standards, but ideally exceeds them significantly. In this area, it is important to choose reliable companies as partners in order to avoid scandals, recalls and lawsuits later on.