Foam is created when gas is introduced and trapped within a solution that contains surfactants. It can consist of large bubbles at the surface of the solution (macrofoam) or small bubbles distributed throughout the solution (microfoam). In either case, it can cause issues within the products and equipment in which it is formed, such as lower product quality, inconsistent product density, and machine damage.
Antifoam and defoaming agents are key to preventing and controlling foam and avoiding the problems associated with it. Both compounds minimize or eliminate foam formation. However, they achieve this goal in different ways; antifoams are surfactants that prevent foam from forming in the first place, while defoamers are surfactants that control existing foam levels by stopping the bubbles from stabilizing.
There are two things an antifoam or defoamer must have to work: an entry coefficient greater than zero and a spreading coefficient greater than zero. These qualities allow the compound to enter the interface between the air and lamella (i.e., the bubble wall) and then enter the bubble wall in a process known as “bridging the film”. As it spreads, the bubble wall thins and, eventually, ruptures.
Beyond the above properties, an antifoam or defoamer can vary in many ways. For example, it can have a silicone or non-silicone composition, be aqueous or non-aqueous, and come in liquid or powder form. This broad selection enables industry professionals to choose a foam control product that meets their exact application requirements. However, it can make it challenging to identify which one best suits their needs. Below, we cover the key factors to keep in mind when selecting an antifoam or defoaming agent.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Antifoam/Defoamer
In aqueous environments, the right antifoam or defoamer product can minimize or eliminate issues associated with foam. Some of the questions you should answer before choosing an antifoam or defoamer for a given application include:
- Is the antifoam/defoamer compatible with the process? Antifoams and defoamers are generally inert chemicals consisting of a liquid (e.g., silicone, mineral oils, or hydrophobic surfactants) and a hydrophobic solid (e.g., fatty acids, fatty alcohols, silica, or wax). Ultimately, the antifoam/defoamer you select should have a balance of compatibility and incompatibility. It should be compatible enough that it effectively disperses in the foaming medium. Otherwise, it may cause deposition issues. However, it should be insoluble to the point that it remains in fine droplet form within the solution.
- Will the antifoam/defoamer cause deposit issues? The antifoam/defoamer should be sufficiently compatible within the solution so as to not create deposits.
- Will the antifoam/defoamer negatively affect the catalyst I am using? The antifoam/defoamer should not negatively impact any catalysts used in the process.
- Will the antifoam/defoamer plug up any membranes or filters? The antifoam/defoamer should not carry the potential for plugging/clogging filters and membranes that can compromise the product or process.
- Is the antifoam/defoamer composition effective for my application? Antifoams and defoamer come in many varieties. The one you choose should suit your individual requirements and restrictions.
- Will the antifoam/defoamer have any negative effects on downstream conditions? The antifoam/defoamer should not cause any adverse downstream effects.
The answers to these questions must be weighed appropriately. In some cases, you must compromise on a solution.
Contact the Antifoam and Defoamer Experts at AMS Today
If you’re looking for an experienced foam control product supplier, turn to the experts at AMS! Equipped with extensive experience providing foam control solutions for a wide range of industries and applications and a broad selection of antifoam and defoamer products, we have what it takes to help you achieve your foam control goals. For additional information on our products and services or assistance choosing a foam control product, contact us today.
Foam is produced when gas (e.g., air) is added and becomes stabilized within a liquid (often water) containing impurities and surface-active agents (surfactants). The molecules of surfactants form a film that traps gas bubbles, preventing them from dissipating as they would in a pure liquid. Whether the foam produced rises to the surface (macrofoam) or accumulates throughout the liquid solution (microfoam), it can cause product or process quality issues in many industrial applications.
Defoaming and antifoaming agents are compounds that are designed to minimize or mitigate foam production. They are used to destroy foam buildup and/or prevent foam formation. One of the industries that regularly relies on them is the food and beverage industry.
Below, we highlight the importance of defoamers and antifoams in the food industry as well as the typical applications in which they are used.
Importance of Food-Grade Antifoams & Defoamers
In the food and beverage industry, the formation of foam can have a number of negative effects on operations. For example:
- It can cause product defects or quality issues.
- It can slow or stall processing times.
- It can prevent the proper filling of containers.
- It can lead to equipment overflow.
- It can trigger equipment malfunction.
- It can produce unsafe working conditions.
By using food-grade antifoams and defoamers to prevent and/or destroy foam, facility owners and managers can keep foam buildup under control. As a result, they can benefit in the following ways:
- Better product and process quality. The absence of foam means products are at a lower risk of damage or contamination, resulting in a higher product acceptance rate. Additionally, equipment is less likely to experience foam-rated issues, such as overflow or malfunction.
- Smaller waste generation. Since fewer products are rejected, less waste is generated.
- Lower production costs. Increasing product quality and equipment operation and decreasing waste generation can translate to reduced overall production costs.
Applications of Food-Grade Antifoams & Defoamers
Food-grade antifoams and defoamers find application in various food and beverage processing operations, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Brine solution manufacture and usage
- Dairy products production (e.g., cheese manufacture, recon milk, whey processing)
- Fermentation operations (e.g., amino acids, enzymes, yeasts, ethanol)
- Grain processing and milling operations (e.g., soy protein isolates, wet corn milling)
- Meat and poultry processing operations (e.g., defeathering, rendering, marinading)
- Produce washing, transport, and preparation operations
If you would like to find out more about food-grade defoamers, watch this short video:
Food-Grade Defoamers & Antifoams at Applied Material Solutions
Need food-grade foam control solutions for your food or beverage processing facility? Turn to the experts at Applied Material Solutions.
At AMS, we offer an extensive selection of defoaming and antifoaming agents for a variety of industries and industrial applications. For the food and beverage industry, we offer the following food-grade products:
- Silicone antifoams. These antifoaming agents combine hydrophobic silicone polymers and inorganic silicates. They are inert and organoleptically imperceptible when used to control foam, meaning they do not affect the sensory aspects (e.g., taste and odor) of the food products themselves. We offer variations that are water-based or non-aqueous, 10% to 100% active, and kosher-certified or Passover-certified (TRANS-100PK).
- Non-silicone antifoams. These aqueous or non-aqueous antifoaming agents typically contain one or more of the following components: vegetable oils, mineral oils, natural waxes, synthetic polymers, esters, and silicates. They also often have surfactants added to improve their dispersibility. We can supply organic variations that are suitable for organic food processing operations.
- Powdered antifoams. These powdered antifoaming agents are suitable for integration into powdered products that may foam up when water is added.
To learn more about our food-grade antifoaming and defoaming products, check out our Antifoam Agents for Food Processing and Agribusiness page. To discuss your antifoam/defoamer needs with one of our team members, contact us today.
Defoamers play a critical role in ensuring foam does not affect the quality of products and processes during industrial applications. They are available in many variations to suit different operations, including oil-based, surfactant-based, and water-based. Below, we focus on water-based defoamers, outlining what they are and what benefits they offer.
What Are Water-Based Defoamers?
As suggested by the name, water-based defoamers utilize water as the carrier, or continuous phase. They typically contain between 60% to 95% water. Many of them are technically oil-in-water emulsions, and therefore contain some form of fat or oil (e.g., mineral oils, vegetable oils, and natural or synthetic waxes). By using water as the carrier and presenting these active ingredients in an emulsified form, these defoamers can more easily disperse into water and water-based process media, and effectively suppress foam.
Advantages of Water-Based Defoamers
Compared to other types of defoamers, water-based defoamers offer a number of advantages, such as:
- Lower cost. Water is the least expensive ingredient that can be added to a formulation, and water-based defoamers can sometimes be made from the byproducts of other manufacturing applications, making them cheaper and easier to produce.
- Ease of Application. They often require minimal production equipment to dilute to lower concentrations, making them simpler to use.
- Better performance. They easily disperse in water and water-based solutions to provide foam suppression and deaeration. Additionally, they do not typically contribute to deposition that can lead to equipment malfunction, product damage, or quality issues.
- Broader compatibility. They are suitable for use in a wide range of industries and operations, from paper processing to industrial process water to wastewater treatment. They can provide defoaming action across a variety of temperatures (typically up to 160° F) and pH levels.
- Greater environmental friendliness. Many water-based defoamers do not contain harmful components, and they tend to have little to no impact on the environment. Additionally, many variations can be considered biodegradable, thereby allowing for their use in more environmentally-sensitive applications.
Industrial Applications of Water-Based Defoamers
While water-based defoamers were first used in the paper industry, they have since found application in many other industries due to their low cost, environmental friendliness, biodegradability, and other advantageous properties. Today, in addition to the paper industry, they are commonly used in the following industries and applications:
- Parts washing
- Food and beverage
- Chemical manufacture
- Water and wastewater treatment
- And more!
Water-Based Defoamers From Applied Material Solutions
Water-based defoamers are an effective, efficient, and eco-friendly solution for controlling foam formation and buildup. That’s why facility workers across a wide range of processing industries turn to them for their foam control needs.
>Looking for water-based defoamers for your facility? Look no further! Applied Material Solutions (AMS) has got you covered. We offer a broad selection of defoaming and antifoaming agents to suit different foam control applications. Whether you need water-based antifoams or defoamers for agricultural, food processing, or technology industry operations, we can supply you with an appropriate product.
To learn more about our products or discuss your antifoaming/defoaming requirements with one of our experts, contact us today.