foam

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foam:

see colloidcolloid
[Gr.,=gluelike], a mixture in which one substance is divided into minute particles (called colloidal particles) and dispersed throughout a second substance. The mixture is also called a colloidal system, colloidal solution, or colloidal dispersion.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Foam

 

a dispersed system with a cellular internal structure. A foam consists of gas or vapor bubbles separated by thin layers of liquid. Owing to the size of the bubbles, which varies from fractions of a millimeter to several centimeters, foams are classified as coarse dispersion systems.

The total volume of gas that is included within foams may exceed the volume of the dispersion medium, that is, the volume of the liquid layers, by a factor of several hundreds (see DISPERSION MEDIUM). The ratio of the volume of a foam to the volume of the liquid phase is the foam’s multiplicity factor. In highly dispersed foams, the bubbles convert into polyhedral cells, and the liquid layers into films that are several hundreds or, in some cases, several tens of nanometers thick. Such films form a framework that is somewhat stable and elastic, and thus, foams have the properties of structured systems (see DISPERSE STRUCTURE and GELS).

One of the major characteristics of foams is time stability, which can be expressed by the time that is required for a 50-percent reduction of the original volume or height of a layer of foam; among other evidences of a foam’s time stability is the change in the degree of dispersion. Foaming takes place either by dispersion of a gas in a liquid medium or by release of a nascent gas phase within the bulk of a liquid. Stable, highly dispersed foams can be obtained using foaming agents—substances that stabilize foams. These substances facilitate foaming and hinder the drainage of liquid from the foam films, thus preventing coalescence of the bubbles. Like stabilizers of emulsions and of lyophobic colloid systems, they reduce surface tension and create an adsorptive surface with positive disjoining pressure. Soaps, soaplike surfactants, and some soluble polymers are especially efficient stabilizers in aqueous mediums, forming layers on the interface of the liquid and gas phases with highly pronounced structural and mechanical properties. An increase in the viscosity of the dispersion medium increases the stability of a foam. Pure liquids with low viscosity do not foam.

Many types of stable foams with carbon dioxide as the gas phase are widely used in fire extinguishers. These foams are produced either directly in the extinguisher or in another type of foam generator. Foam flotation is used to concentrate valuable minerals. Many liquid and semiliquid food products are foamed and subsequently hardened, for example, breads, biscuits, and various types of confectioneries and creams. Solid, structural cellular materials, for example foam glass, foamed slag, expanded plastics, and porous rubbers, are also obtained by foaming originally liquid suspensions, melts, solutions, or polymer mixtures.

Antifoams are used to destroy foams or to prevent foaming, since in several technological processes, especially in the chemical, textile, and food-processing industries, foaming is undesirable. Effective antifoams are surfactants that displace foaming agents from the surface of the liquid but do not themselves stabilize the foam. They include various alcohols, ethers, and alkylamines. Sometimes, foams are removed by high temperatures, by mechanical means, or simply by settling.

L. A. SHITS

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

foam

[fōm]
(chemistry)
An emulsionlike two-phase system where the dispersed phase is gas or air.
(fluid mechanics)
A collection of bubbles on the surface of a liquid, often stabilized by organic contaminants, as found at sea or along shore. Also known as froth.
(geology)
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

foam

1. a mass of small bubbles of gas formed on the surface of a liquid, such as the froth produced by agitating a solution of soap or detergent in water
2. frothy saliva sometimes formed in and expelled from the mouth, as in rabies
3. the frothy sweat of a horse or similar animal
4. 
a. any of a number of light cellular solids made by creating bubbles of gas in the liquid material and solidifying it: used as insulators and in packaging
b. (as modifier): foam rubber
5. a colloid consisting of a gas suspended in a liquid
6. a mixture of chemicals sprayed from a fire extinguisher onto a burning substance to create a stable layer of bubbles which smothers the flames
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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