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Detergent action on oil/water mixture

Detergent action on oil/water mixture

A350/0073

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Credit

JACK FIELDS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JACK FIELDS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Action of a detergent. View of a reaction flask containing water, a light petroleum oil and a detergent. Vigorous agitation of the flask causes the contents to mix. The detergent is water soluble, but is also able to dissolve the oil, forming the suspension seen here. This is due to the structure of the detergent; it contains hydrophillic groups such as sulphate, sulphonate or polyether (to confer water-solubility), and hydrophobic groups such as long hydrocarbon chains to enable it to dissolve the oil. Many synthetic detergents are produced as a derivative of petroleum.

Release details

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