Mini-Encyclopedia of Papermaking Wet-End
Part Two: Definitions and Concepts
Steric stabilization is a mechanism that can explain the ability of certain additives to inhibit coagulation of suspensions. These additives include certain water-loving polymers and surfactants with water-loving chains. These additives are believed to cover the system in such a way that long loops and tails extend out into solution. Systems that are sterically stabilized tend to remain well dispersed even at high salt concentrations or under conditions where the zeta potentials of the surfaces are reduced to near zero. The effectiveness of steric stabilizers has been attributed to the thermodynamic penalty when one tries to confine polymeric chains to smaller volumes. Another explanation is that such chains are water-loving, and they would rather stay associated with water, rather than interact with any other surface (except that they are attached at one end to a surface).
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