The Z potential is a quantity of particles widely used in industry when manufacturing materials. The importance of this measurement of particle load lies in the stability it provides to the different materials. In this article, we will explain what the Zeta potential consists of, the importance of its practical use to design new materials and what are its most common applications.

What is the Z Potential?

The Zeta potential is a physical property, a magnitude of attraction or repulsion of charge between particles, exhibited by any particle in suspension. In other words, it is the potential difference across the phase boundaries between solids and liquids.

The most important factor affecting the zeta potential is the pH of the medium. Other factors include ionic strength, the concentration of any additives, and temperature.

The importance of the Z potential is that its value influences the stability of the materials.

Emulsions with a high Zeta potential, both negative and positive, are electrically stabilized. While low Zeta potential emulsions tend to coagulate or flocculate, which can lead to poor physical stability.

In general, when the Z potential of an emulsion is high, the repulsive forces outweigh the attractive forces, resulting in a relatively stable system.

What is the Z Potential used for?

The Zeta potential can be used to optimize suspension and emulsion formulations. Knowing the potential of Zeta can reduce the time required to produce trial formulations of the various materials. It is also a great help in predicting the long-term stability of materials and prevents accelerated aging of materials.

Measurements of the Z potential are key factors in colloidal processes, which are systems made up of two or more phases, usually one fluid (liquid or gas) and the other dispersed in the form of generally solid and very fine particles.

The benefits of the potential Zeta in suspension

In addition to affecting flocculation behavior, the Z potential also determines the ability of the particle to interact with soluble ions, polymeric species, etc. Thus, the benefits generated by the potential Z in suspension are the following:

  • Improved suspension / emulsion stability and therefore the useful life of materials
  • Provides higher yields in products made from suspensions.
  • Superior end product properties are obtained through control of the microstructure of the dough or coating in the suspension stage.
  • Faster processing of suspensions
  • A rapid introduction of new products and formulation is achieved.

In cases where the measured Z potential is not what is sought, surfactants, pH change or electrolyte additions can be used to alter and optimize the properties of the suspension.

Main uses and applications of Potential Z in industry

Since the physical properties of suspensions and colloids largely depend on the properties of the particle-liquid interface, knowing the Zeta potential provides the following practical applications on industrial materials:

  • The preparation of colloidal dispersions

It is used in paints, inks, stains, pharmaceutical and cosmetic preparations, food products, drilling muds, colorants, foams, and agricultural chemicals.

  • Use of colloidal dispersions in manufacturing processes

It is used in ceramic, cement and gypsum smelting, brick and ceramic manufacturing, paper liners, and catalyst supports.

  • The use of colloidal phenomena

It includes detergency, capillary phenomena (important in the wetting of powders), the expulsion of oil from the reservoir rock, the retention of moisture from the nutrients in the soil and in the coating of surfaces, the flotation of minerals, the absorption of impurities as in sugar refining, solvent recovery and electrophoretic deposition of paints.

  • Destruction of unwanted colloidal dispersions

Unwanted colloidal dispersions that occur during water purification treatment, wine and beer clarification, wastewater removal, oil emulsion breakdown, sludge dewatering, and aerosol and mist dispersion.

  • Reducing the cost of additives

The minimum amount necessary to achieve the desired effect is calculated, such as the amount of flocculant that is added to the water during the water treatment.

  • Use in microelectrophoresis

Provides images of moving particles to characterize blood, bacteria, and other biological surfaces.

Ultimately, when stability is an important factor in a colloidal process, then Zeta potential measurements need to be considered. A magnitude of vital importance in the industry. Contact our Infinitia team if you want more information about its industrial application.