Inhibition of bubble coalescence: effects of salt concentration and speed of approach.

Research paper by Lorena A LA Del Castillo, Satomi S Ohnishi, Roger G RG Horn

Indexed on: 25 Jan '11Published on: 25 Jan '11Published in: Journal of Colloid and Interface Science


Bubble coalescence experiments have been performed using a sliding bubble apparatus, in which mm-sized bubbles in an aqueous electrolyte solution without added surfactant rose toward an air meniscus at different speeds obtained by varying the inclination of a closed glass cylinder containing the liquid. The coalescence times of single bubbles contacting the meniscus were monitored using a high speed camera. Results clearly show that stability against coalescence of colliding air bubbles is influenced by both the salt concentration and the approach speed of the bubbles. Contrary to the widespread belief that bubbles in pure water are unstable, we demonstrate that bubbles formed in highly purified water and colliding with the meniscus at very slow approach speeds can survive for minutes or even hours. At higher speeds, bubbles in water only survive for a few seconds, and at still higher speeds they coalesce instantly. Addition of a simple electrolyte (KCl) removes the low-speed stability and shifts the transition between transient stability and instant coalescence to higher approach speeds. At high electrolyte concentration no bubbles were observed to coalesce instantly. These observations are consistent with recent results of Yaminsky et al. (Langmuir 26 (2010) 8061) and the transitions between different regions of behavior are in semi-quantitative agreement with Yaminsky's model.