Debasmita Banerjee
Debasmita Banerjee
09 Nov 2017

Oil and Water can be mixed and without shaking - says MIT

Oil and Water, don't go together. Who doesn't know this proverb? Irrespective of geographical location or language, it has become a "naturally grown" part of expressions, synthesized and developed enough to be integrated with the literature forever. However, what if the science behind this well-known expression changes? What if oil and water can be mixed? Will that have any effect on literature? We will find out but first, it's our duty to know that oil and water can be really mixed. How? Thanks to MIT, a research division has finally changed the lifelong truth. They have sketched a path to mix oil and water and make it a stable unit, without shaking.

Oil and Water emulsion

Involving oil and water, the process needs cooling of oil containing a pittance of a surfactant ( compare this with detergent ) and allowing water vapor from the surrounding air condense onto the oil surface. Initially, the experiment resulted in giving birth to tiny, uniform water droplets on the surface which further sink into the oil. Published yesterday, the news takes the reference of oil and vinegar (water-based solution) dressings on salad. It is a known fact that they can not stay together even if you try harder and separate within minutes. However, the new research was not meant to change a theory but it has deep applications in the fields of drug-delivery systems and food-processing method. In these oil in water (or the otherwise) needs to be formed, stay stable and retain their dimension of few hundred nanometers. They can't coalesce to form a larger unit which will only disrupt its stability.

Former to this research, industries gained this stability by mechanically shaking the mix or pushing sound waves to inject intense vibrations within the liquid (sonicating). What was the need for a new process then? associate professor Kripa Varanasi mentioned that this one saves a lot of energy. The new process requires a reservoir of oil and surfactant which can bind both water and oil having an amphiphilic nature in it. Later the mixture was placed in a chamber with humid air and that cooled the oil. Following, the condensing water then forms droplets at the surface which, having its size intact, spread through the oil-surfactant mixture. By manipulating the proportion of surfactant in the oil the size of the bubbles can be controlled.

And the sizes are the most significant component for its stability as the tinier bubbles ditch the gravity. The experiment resulted in nano order emulsions which stayed stable for several months with respect to its natural behavior. Using the "bottom-up" approach, the team actually made use of the inherent nature of phase-change and spreading phenomena. The team said this process will work for other oil and surfactant ingredients too. Generally, foods and pharmaceuticals have an expiration date and that often depends on the instability of emulsions. The team wants to proceed with their research with more complex mixtures in their mind which may help extend the total period for which we can use daily stuff.

The initiative is supported by MIT Energy Initiative, the National Science Foundation, and a Society in Science fellowship. The work has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

See, a new way to mix water and oil:

Back to our question - will that have an impact on language? The answer is probably no, as our language is derived from naturally occurring phenomena. Artificially we can achieve great heights but that doesn't occur often. Language is all about having a common.

Source: MIT

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