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What is Zeta Potential?

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Can you explain zeta potential in simple terms?

If you haven't deduced by now, my study mates and I are all Chem Engineering grads from the early 80's and sadly have forgotten much of what we academically one knew....we are all now pursuing Master's degrees and it is a struggle re-learning much of this material.

Also...we all work either in pulp & paper mills or other wood product mills as process engineers (hence many of the questions surrounding wood chemistry etc. etc.)

I am particularly interested in better understanding zeta potential. The reason I ask is that I'm trying to determine the possible electro-chemical attractive forces between the wood pulp we produce and the highly anionic phenol-formaldehyde (pH 11.2) adhesive resin we use to bond the wood fibers.

Is there a relationship between pH and zeta potential?

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According to http://www.zeta-meter.com/5min.pdf , there are indirect applications of zeta potential to your situation. Here it is in a nutshell:

The "Stern Layer" consists of positive ions that are tightly bound to the anionic surface, simply because they are close together and are electrostatically attracted to each other. Above the "Stern Layer" there is a "Diffuse Layer" of positive particles. They are in a sort of limbo, because they feel an attraction for the colloid, but also suffer a repulsion due to the positive ions in the Stern Layer. The combination of these two ...

Solution Summary

Zeta potential and its applications are explained.