Students investigate surfactants for dish soap applications

Three Miami students are working with proteins to see their effect on surfactant mixtures, a type of substance that reduce the surface tension of a liquid.

Jared Coffin, a chemical engineering graduate student, has been working on this project since last summer and explains more about why they are conducting this research.

“We are looking at surfactant mixtures, like dish soap, and the behavior of the mixture when the different proteins are add. We are discovering the reasons why each of the components act in certain ways.”

Dish Soap Research

Coffin working with surfactants in a lab                    

Originally the focus of the research was on the protein’s effect on the foamability of the mixture. The researched changed to being able to explain why the proteins affected the mixture, and what happens to each component when the protein is added.

They decided to research this effect of proteins because they are easily available and less expensive than surfactant. 

Jared Coffin, Kayla Thompson, a chemical engineering graduate student, and Elizabeth Caraballo, an undergraduate bioengineering major, hope to learn how each portion of the mixture (oil, air, water, protein, surfactant) behaves when combined.

The team is working with Jason Berberich, associate professor in the department of chemical, paper, and biomedical engineering, in conducting their research findings.

They hope to apply their research to aid in the production of commercially available dish soap. 

By Maggie Cavanaugh, CEC Reporter