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a colloidal dissolution involving the spontaneous and reversible penetration of a low-molecular-weight substance (solubilizate), which is slightly soluble in a particular liquid medium, into micelles of a surfactant or globules of a high-molecular-weight compound present in the medium. Solubilization is a typical property of such association colloids as aqueous solutions of soaps and synthetic detergents at concentrations greater than the critical micelle concentration and solutions of proteins and certain synthetic polymers. Solubilization of oils, fats, and hydrophobic organic liquids occurs in systems with aqueous media; solubilization of water and, less often, other polar substances occurs in systems with hydrocarbon media.
Solubilization plays an important role in such technological processes as micellar catalysis, the production of synthetic rubber by means of emulsion (latex) polymerization, textile cleaning, and the manufacture of lubricants, pesticides, and certain pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs. Solubilization is also important in biological processes; during digestion, for example, fats are solubilized by substances in the bile.