The influence of wetting on the buoyancy of particles

Bowen, James; Cheneler, David; Ward, Michael C. L. and Adams, Michael J. (2011). The influence of wetting on the buoyancy of particles. In: Wu, C. Y. and Ge, W. eds. Particulate Materials: Synthesis, Characterisation, Processing and Modelling. Special publication (334). Cambridge, UK: Royal Society of Chemistry, pp. 213–218.




The role of wetting in particulate systems can be of practical importance and has been considered for many decades, with Huh and Mason providing an early example of a rigorous theoretical consideration of a single particle buoyant on the surface of a liquid. The ability of a particle of a density greater than the liquid phase on which it rests to be buoyant will be significantly influenced by the wetting interaction that occurs at the interface between the solid and liquid phases. Recent work by Vella et al. and that of Extrand and Mood has sought to capture the importance of wetting on the buoyancy of particles.

The effect of wetting on the ability of solid millimetre-sized and smaller particles to float on a liquid of lower density than the particle material has been considered theoretically and investigated experimentally. The contribution of capillary force towards particle buoyancy is assessed for a range of systems, as well as the range of diameters of particles which could be buoyant for each combination of solid and liquid. The critical parameters in this evaluation of particle buoyancy were considered to be (i) solid density, (ii) liquid density, (iii) liquid surface tension, and (iv) interfacial wetting between solid and liquid phases.

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