Macromolecule-based platforms for developing tailor-made formulations for scale inhibition†
Inorganic crystallization, commonly referred to as mineral scale formation, has posed tremendous challenges and is one of the leading assurance problems in water-based industries. A detailed understanding of the mechanism and influencing factors for the initiation and build-up of deposited scale is not only highly relevant for many industries but has also catalyzed academic research in developing efficient antiscalants. Macromolecules that can stop nucleation and inhibit crystallization or interact with forming crystals and modify their morphology to retard further growth have been the focus of intense scientific endeavors. There has been immense activity in developing additives which can regulate unwanted inorganic crystallization and understanding the complexity of how they work in preventing scale deposits. In this review, after a summary of the controlling parameters that define mineral scale growth, we review opportunities generated by using macromolecules as a platform for developing inhibitors for the two most common scale deposits, i.e. calcium salts and silica, with a discussion on their efficiencies in controlling nucleation and changing growing crystal morphology.