Suspensions

In chemistry, a suspension is a heterogeneous mixture containing solid particles that are sufficiently large for sedimentation. Usually they must be larger than 1 micrometer.[1] The internal phase (solid) is dispersed throughout the external phase (fluid) through mechanical agitation, with the use of certain excipients or suspending agents. Unlike colloids, suspensions will eventually settle. An example of a suspension would be sand in water. The suspended particles are visible under a microscope and will settle over time if left undisturbed. This distinguishes a suspension from a colloid, in which the suspended particles are smaller and do not settle.[2] Colloids and suspensions are different from solutions, in which the dissolved substance (solute) does not exist as a solid, and solvent and solute are homogeneously mixed.

A suspension of liquid droplets or fine solid particles in a gas is called an aerosol or particulate. In the atmosphere these consist of fine dust and soot particles, sea salt, biogenic and volcanogenic sulfates, nitrates, and cloud droplets.

Suspensions are classified on the basis of the dispersed phase and the dispersion medium, where the former is essentially solid while the latter may either be a solid, a liquid, or a gas.

In modern chemical process industries, high shear mixing technology has been used to create many novel suspensions.

Suspensions are unstable from the thermodynamic point of view; however, they can be kinetically stable over a large period of time, which determines their shelf life. This time span needs to be measured to ensure the best product quality to the final consumer. “Dispersion stability refers to the ability of a dispersion to resist change in its properties over time.” D.J. McClements.[3]

IUPAC definition

Dispersion of solid particles in a liquid.

Note: Definition based on that in ref.[4]

[5]

Technique monitoring physical stability

Multiple light scattering coupled with vertical scanning is the most widely used technique to monitor the dispersion state of a product, hence identifying and quantifying destabilization phenomena.[6][7][8][9] It works on concentrated dispersions without dilution. When light is sent through the sample, it is back scattered by the particles. The backscattering intensity is directly proportional to the size and volume fraction of the dispersed phase. Therefore, local changes in concentration (sedimentation) and global changes in size (flocculation, aggregation) are detected and monitored.

Accelerating methods for shelf life prediction

The kinetic process of destabilisation can be rather long (up to several months or even years for some products) and it is often required for the formulator to use further accelerating methods in order to reach reasonable development time for new product design. Thermal methods are the most commonly used and consists in increasing temperature to accelerate destabilisation (below critical temperatures of phase inversion or chemical degradation). Temperature affects not only the viscosity, but also interfacial tension in the case of non-ionic surfactants or more generally interactions forces inside the system. Storing a dispersion at high temperatures enables simulation of real life conditions for a product (e.g. tube of sunscreen cream in a car in the summer), but also to accelerate destabilisation processes up to 200 times.

Mechanical acceleration including vibration, centrifugation and agitation are sometimes used. They subject the product to different forces that pushes the particles / droplets against one another, hence helping in the film drainage. However, some emulsions would never coalesce in normal gravity, while they do under artificial gravity.[10] Moreover, segregation of different populations of particles have been highlighted when using centrifugation and vibration.[11]

Common examples of suspensions include:

  • Mud or muddy water: where soil, clay, or silt particles are suspended in water
  • Flour suspended in water
  • Dust particles suspended in air
  • Sand grains suspended in water

See also

References

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.