Dust is one among the many notorious workplace hazards that occurs in industrial production processes and often poses a severe threat to the health and safety of workers. In particular, dust is the primary cause of occupational pneumoconiosis; a serious incurable disease. The acknowledgement of the hazards that dust poses to the health of the works has catalyzed the development of a multitude of dust control technologies, in which foam dust suppression is a excellent method. In fact, foam dust suppression has received much attention in dust control, including the successful development of novel foaming agent adding devices, foam generating devices, spray devices (foam nozzle), which enhance the safety and reliability of foam preparation and the refinement of foam utilization. Research has revealed that foaming agents are an integral part of foam formation, which directly affects the characteristics of dust-suppression foam.
Noteworthy publications have assessed the effects of foaming agent concentration and temperature on the foaming capacity and foam stability. Still, there is need to improve on the performance of dust-suppression foam so as to allow for the deployment of clean production technology. In this view, researchers from the China University of Mining and Technology: Professor Hetang Wang, Dr. Xinyi Chen, Dr. Ying Xie and Dr. Xiaobin Wei, in collaboration with Dr. Wei Victor Liu at the University of Alberta in Canada, proposed to optimize the performance of dust suppression foam by introducing a method of exposing the foaming agent solution to a magnetic field of specific intensity prior to foaming. Their work is currently published in the research journal, Colloids and Surfaces A.
The research team proposed to investigate the effects of magnetization on foaming capacity, foam stability and foam size. As such, two types of foaming agents: i.e. anionic and non-ionic, at different concentrations were selected to test the foam expansion and foaming time which reflect the foaming capacity, foam stability, and foam bubble size which reflect the dust capturing efficiency before and after magnetization. Their word also finds out the significant influence of the micelle effect of surfactants at higher concentrations in terms of foaming capacity.
The authors reported that that the foaming capacity and foam stability of the foaming agent solution after magnetization were higher than that of the original solution, and the size distribution of the bubbles tended to concentrate towards smaller size ranges. Moreover, the team observed that the size of foam bubbles decreased and became more homogeneous after magnetization.
In summary, the study introduced magnetization as a novel approach to improve on the performance of dust suppression foam. Their work proved that magnetization could enhance the performance of dust-suppression foam. Plus, the foaming agent solution with lower concentration might have the same foaming capacity as higher concentrations’ due to weaker micelle effects, and its lack of foam stability can be compensated by magnetization. It is believed that this work was pivotal in promoting foam to become a more economical and efficient dust suppression material.
Hetang Wang, Xinyi Chen, Ying Xie, Xiaobin Wei, Wei Victor Liu. Experimental study on improving performance of dust-suppression foam by magnetization. Colloids and Surfaces A, volume 577 (2019) page 370–377.