Surface tension and solution evaporation of aqueous solutions of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), ECOSURF™ EH-14, and ECOSURF™ SA-9 under natural convection is examined through experimental methods. SLS is an anionic surfactant while EH-14 and SA-9 are environmentally-friendly nonionic surfactants.
Surfactants are known to affect evaporation performance of solutions and are studied in relation to water loss prevention and heat dissipation. Surfactants could be useful under drought conditions which present challenges to water management on a yearly basis in arid areas of the world. Recent water scarcity in the greater Los Angeles area, south eastern Africa nations, eastern Australia and eastern Mediterranean countries has high cost of water loss by evaporation. Surfactants are studied as a potential method of suppressing evaporation in water reservoirs. Surfactants are also studied as performance enhancers for the working fluid of heat dissipation devices, such as pulsating heat pipes used for electronics cooling. Some surfactants have been shown to lower thermal resistances and friction pressure in such devices and thereby increase their efficiency.
The static surface tensions of the aqueous-surfactant solutions are measured with surface tensiometer using Wilhelmy plate method. The surfactants are shown to lower surface tension significantly from pure water. The surface tension values found at the Critical Micelle Concentration are 33.8 mN/m for SLS, 30.3 mN/m for EH-14, and 30.0 mN/m for SA-9. All three surfactants reduced natural convection water loss over 5 days with SLS showing the greatest effect on evaporation rates. The maximum evaporation reduction by each surfactant from distilled water with no surfactants after 5 days is 26.1% for SLS, 20.8% for EH-14, and 18.4% for SA-9.