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ETH researchers revolutionize beer foam

New findings from ETH researchers could make foam last longer, opening the door to improving the quality of beer, ice cream and even concrete.

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Image Credit: Peter Kraayvanger/Pixabay

Foam collapses over time. Take the example of beer foam: shortly after a server pours a pint of beer, bubbles might merge or pop, causing the foam to destabilize. 

Experts call this process “Ostwald ripening”, and it is common to all types of foam, be it for food and drink or technologically advanced materials. The change in the texture of the foam weakens product performance and quality, explains the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich in a statement.

ETH researchers have now succeeded for the first time in quantitatively controlling the dissolution arrest of foam bubbles and formulating universally valid strategies that will help the food and materials industries develop “controlled and more effective stabilizers in order to prevent or stop Ostwald ripening,” said Professor Jan Vermant.

The ETH findings are universally valid for all materials with large surfaces or for applications in which surfaces play an important role, including the food industry. 

“We provide the food industry and other companies with development guidelines and quantification tools that they can use to develop new products,” explained Vermant.

Their findings could even make concrete more stable as incorporating small, stable bubbles allows concrete to better resist thaw-freeze cycles while also making it lighter.

The ETH research was co-financed by Nestlé, which plans to use the findings to improve its ice cream.

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