Increasing triolein content of oil-in-water microemulsions in the pure C12E4/water/n-hexadecane/triolein system while maintaining a fixed surfactant concentration and volume fraction of drops raises the temperature of the solubilisation boundary, where excess oil separates, but has only a slight effect on the (higher) cloud point temperature, where excess water appears. Thus, the temperature range of the single-phase microemulsion shrinks and ultimately disappears. When such microemulsions are in equilibrium with excess oil, the hexadecane/triolein ratio is greater in the microemulsion, probably because the larger triolein molecules are unable to penetrate the hydrocarbon chain region of the surfactant films of the microemulsion droplets. Indeed, monolayer studies and calculations based on microemulsion and excess oil compositions indicate that the films have minimal triolein and similar ratios of hexadecane to surfactant. Triolein drops brought into contact with hexadecane-in-water microemulsions first swell as they incorporate hexadecane, then shrink owing to solubilisation. Interfacial tension decreases during this process until it becomes almost constant near 0.01 mN m-1, suggesting that the drops in the final stages of solubilisation have high hexadecane contents. A microemulsion containing 10 wt% C12E4 and 15 wt% hexadecane was able to remove over 50% of triolein from polyester fabric at 25 °C, more than twice that removed by an oil-free solution with the same surfactant concentration in similar experiments.
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