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Bio-Surfactants

Bio-Surfactants are a product of microbial action on an organic medium. Unlike other surfactants, bio-surfactants are effective at either end of the pH scale, and at either hot or cold temperatures. They affect the surface tension of liquids in which they are dissolved. They can lower the water's surface tension from 72 mN/m to 27 mN/m at a concentration as low as 20 μM. Bio-Surfactants accomplish this effect as they occupy the intermolecular space between water molecules, decreasing the attractive forces between adjacent water molecules, mainly hydrogen bonds, creating a more fluid solution that can go into tighter regions of space increasing water’s wetting ability. Bio-Surfactants reduce the surface tension of water by adsorbing at the liquid-gas interface. They also reduce the interfacial tension between oil and water by adsorbing at the liquid-liquid interface. Many bio-surfactants can also assemble in the bulk solution into aggregates. Some of these aggregates are known as micelles. The concentration at which bio-surfactants begin to form micelles is known as the critical micelle concentration or CMC. When micelles form in water, their tails form a core that is like an oil droplet, and their (ionic/polar) heads form an outer shell that maintains favorable contact with water. When bio-surfactants assemble in oil, the aggregate is referred to as a reverse micelle. In a reverse micelle, the heads are in the core and the tails maintain favorable contact with oil.


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