Summary
In chemistry, a suspension is a heterogeneous mixture of a fluid that contains solid particles sufficiently large for sedimentation. The particles may be visible to the naked eye, usually must be larger than one micrometer, and will eventually settle, although the mixture is only classified as a suspension when and while the particles have not settled out. A suspension is a heterogeneous mixture in which the solid particles do not dissolve, but get suspended throughout the bulk of the solvent, left floating around freely in the medium. The internal phase (solid) is dispersed throughout the external phase (fluid) through mechanical agitation, with the use of certain excipients or suspending agents. An example of a suspension would be sand in water. The suspended particles are visible under a microscope and will settle over time if left undisturbed. This distinguishes a suspension from a colloid, in which the colloid particles are smaller and do not settle. Colloids and suspensions are different from solution, in which the dissolved substance (solute) does not exist as a solid, and solvent and solute are homogeneously mixed. A suspension of liquid droplets or fine solid particles in a gas is called an aerosol. In the atmosphere, the suspended particles are called particulates and consist of fine dust and soot particles, sea salt, biogenic and volcanogenic sulfates, nitrates, and cloud droplets. Suspensions are classified on the basis of the dispersed phase and the dispersion medium, where the former is essentially solid while the latter may either be a solid, a liquid, or a gas. In modern chemical process industries, high-shear mixing technology has been used to create many novel suspensions. Suspensions are unstable from a thermodynamic point of view but can be kinetically stable over a longer period of time, which in turn can determine a suspension's shelf life. This time span needs to be measured in order to provide accurate information to the consumer and ensure the best product quality.
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