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Last updated: August 25, 2017

What Does Foaming Mean?

Foaming is the continuous formation of bubbles which have sufficiently high surface tension to remain as bubbles beyond the disengaging surface.

Foaming is used in industrial cleaning applications, the preparation of building materials and a wide range of other tasks. It is also an often-unwanted byproduct in the manufacture of various substances. It can create serious problems in the chemical industry, especially for biochemical processes.


Corrosionpedia Explains Foaming

Several conditions are needed to produce foam:

  • Mechanical work
  • Surface active components (surfactants) that reduce surface tension
  • Formation of foam faster than breakdown

Foaming has a negative impact on industrial operations. For example, boiler water carryover is the contamination of the steam with boiler-water solids. Bubbles or froth actually build up on the surface of the boiler water and pass out with the steam. This foaming is caused by high concentration of any solid in the boiler water. It is generally believed, however, that specific substances such as alkalis, oils, fats, greases, certain types of organic matter and suspended solids are particularly conducive to foaming.

Chemical anti-foaming agents that modify the surface tension of a liquid are used to remove foam. Chemical methods of foaming control are not always desired where the product quality is of great importance. In order to prevent foaming, in such cases mechanical methods are mostly dominant over chemical ones.

A broad spectrum of chemicals can act as foaming agents. They act as surfactants, reducing surface tension. In industry, foaming agents are used whenever a foam needs to be created or when a suspension of ingredients is being prepared in the form of a foam. In the oil industry, for example, a specialty product known as drilling foam is sometimes used during drilling and oil exploration.


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