Interactions between non-polar surfaces in water: Fokus on talc, pitch and surface roughness effects

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: The aim of this thesis work was to gain understanding of the interactions between talc mineral and surfaces, liquids and chemicals relevant for industrial applications, such as pulp and paper. Talc is used in the pulp and paper industry as a filler pigment, in control of pitch (lipophilic extractives) deposits and as a coating pigment. A deeper understanding of talc interactions will be beneficial in optimizing its use.Long-range attractive interactions between talc and hydrophobic model probes, as well as pitch probes, have been measured using the atomic force microscope (AFM) colloidal probe method. Two procedures for preparation of pitch colloidal probes were developed to allow these studies. Model hydrophobic, nanorough surfaces with surface energy characteristics similar to talc have also been prepared and their interactions with hydrophobic model probes compared to interactions between hydrophobic model probes and talc. It is demonstrated that talc mineral interacts with model hydrophobic particles, as well as with pitch, by long-range attractive forces, considerably stronger than the expected van der Waals force. The possible origin of the measured interaction forces is discussed, and the conclusion is that the main cause is an attractive capillary force due to formation of a gas/vapor capillary between the surfaces. Force measurements using model hydrophobic, nanorough surfaces show that a large-scale waviness does not significantly influence the range and magnitude of the capillary attraction, but large local variations in these quantities are found. It is demonstrated that a large variation in adhesion force corresponds to a small variation in local contact angle of the capillaries at the surfaces. The nature of the surface topographical features influences the capillary attraction by affecting the local contact angle and by pinning of the three-phase contact line. The effect is clearly dependent on the size of the surface features and whether they exist in the form of crevices or as extending ridges. Entrapment of air also affects the imbibition of water in pressed talc tablets.The effects of wetting and dispersion agents on the interactions between talc and hydrophobic probes have also been investigated. It is demonstrated that a common dispersing agent used for talc, poly(acrylic acid), does not affect the capillary attraction between talc and non-polar probes. In fact, the results strongly suggest that poly(acrylic acid) does not adsorb on the basal plane of talc. From this finding it is inferred that the stabilizing effect of this additive most likely is due to adsorption to the edges of talc. In contrast, a wetting agent (the non-ionic triblock copolymer Pluronic PE6400) removes the long-range capillary attraction. It is suggested that such an ability to replace air at the talc surface is of great importance for an efficient wetting agent.The Hamaker constant for talc has also been estimated by using optical data obtained from spectroscopic ellipsometry. It is demonstrated that a nanocrystalline talc mineral, cut in different directions displays very small differences in Hamaker constant between the different crystallographic orientations, whereas a microcrystalline sample displays a significantly higher value. The estimated Hamaker constants are discussed for different material combinations of relevance for the pulp- and paper industry, such as cellulose and calcium carbonate.