Solving the Nanobubble Paradox | AIChE

Solving the Nanobubble Paradox


Nanobubbles are extremely small bubbles that exist in solution. Unlike cavitation, which is the formation of small vapor-filled cavities in liquid, nanobubbles are filled with a gas or some other substance. Free bubbles in solution are referred to as bulk nanobubbles, while those attached to solid substrates are called surface nanobubbles.

Researchers have studied the use of nanobubbles in gene delivery, where the active gene is encapsulated into a nanobubble. In other studies, bulk nanobubbles have been used as gas carriers for drug delivery. And, researchers have successfully deployed water-containing oxygen nanobubbles to purify wastewater and treat certain bacterial infections. Other nanobubble applications are related to agriculture, algae control, oil and gas, and mining.

Despite their variety of applications, nanobubbles remain a mystery of the scientific world for one paradoxical reason — lasting nanobubbles should not be able to exist. Imagine blowing a bubble into the air or into water and having it exist indefinitely; it sounds impossible. “The classical theory of bubble stability shows that bubbles in water are unstable,” says Tapio Vehmas ...

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