The influence of the chemical nature of dispersed phase on stability in oil-in-water emulsions

  • Alan Smith

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Some of the problems arising from the inherent instability of emulsions are discussed. Aspects of emulsion stability are described and particular attention is given to the influence of the chemical nature of the dispersed phase on adsorbed film structure and stability,
Emulsion stability has been measured by a photomicrographic technique.
Electrophoresis, interfacial tension and droplet rest-time data were also obtained. Emulsions were prepared using a range of oils, including aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, dispersed In a solution of sodium dodecyl sulphate. In some cases a small amount of alkane or alkanol was incorporated into the oil phase.
In general the findings agree with the classical view that the stability of oil-in-water emulsions is favoured by a closely packed interfacial film and appreciable electric charge on the droplets. The inclusion of non-ionic alcohol leads to enhanced stability, presumably owing to the formation of a "mixed" interfacial film which is more closely packed and probably more coherent than that of the anionic surfactant alone.
In some instances differences in stability cannot he accounted for simply by differences in interfacial adsorption or droplet charge. Alternative explanations are discussed and it is postulated that the coarsening of emulsions may occur not only hy coalescence but also through the migration of oil from small droplets to larger ones by molecular diffusion.
The viability of using the coalescence rates of droplets at a plane interface as a guide to emulsion stability has been researched. The construction of a suitable apparatus and the development of a standard testing procedure are described. Coalescence-time distributions may be correlated by equations similar to those presented by other workers, or by an analysis based upon the log-normal function. Stability parameters for a range of oils are discussed in terms of differences in film drainage and the natl1re of the interfacial film. Despite some broad correlations there is generally poor agreement between droplet and
emulsion stabilities. It is concluded that hydrodynamic factors largely determine droplet stability in the systems studied. Consequently droplet rest-time measurements do not provide a sensible indication of emulsion stability,
Date of Award1975
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorS. S. Davis (Supervisor)


  • chemical nature
  • dispersed phase
  • stability
  • oil-in-water emulsions

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