An emulsion is a fine dispersion on tiny droplets of one liquid in another in which it is not soluble or miscible. Emulsions are formed either spontaneously, by thermal reactions or, more often, by mechanical means, such as agitation or with the help of a surfactant, known as emulsifier, which significantly lowers the interfacial tension at the phase boundaries and stabilizes the emulsion. In an oil-in-water emulsion, each fat molecule is grouped in the center with many water molecules surrounding it. So, the oil molecule is more or less hidden in an aqueous shell. Naturally oil-in-water emulsions contain more water than oil, as the oil must be surrounded by the water.
Emulsifiers are applied e.g. to produce cooling lubricant emulsions. They mediate chemically between the oil and water phases and have a polar (hydrophilic) and non-polar (lipophilic) part. Through their application, an oily phase composed of mineral oil and additives, can be emulsified easily and is stable in water.
The emulsion is formed by simply mixing the cooling lubricant and water. The molecules of the emulsifier align at the surface in a way that the lipophilic part is in the oil phase and the hydrophilic part is in the water phase. Emulsifiers are divided into anion active, cation active and nonionic emulsifiers, according to the electric charge of the part, which defines the character of emulsifier. The impact of ionic emulsifiers is based on forming a thin film on the oil droplets, which is charged concordantly.
With conventional inorganic breaking agents large amounts of oil contaminated hydroxide sludge accumulate containing large amounts of water. The remaining sludge must be dewatered and afterwards deposited or burned. The running costs for these methods are constantly increasing. The picture on the left shows a large amount of hydroxide sludge after an inorganic breaking.
We carry out analysis of the wastewater in our own laboratory and establish the most efficient flocculation and breaking additives for the present emulsions with an eye on all relevant ecological and economical aspects.
The most appropriate AWAS wastewater technology is determined on the basis of the results of the chemical analysis and technical laboratory tests.