Milk & Food Coloring Lab Report (Importance of Surfactant)
981 WordsMar 20, 20134 Pages
Importance of Surfactant
Surfactant is an essential component for the respiratory system to function properly. Knowing the physiology of surfactant in the alveoli is important to know when learning the structure of the air sacs and how they work. This experiment is designed to make the understanding of surfactant in the alveolar film easier to learn, because it's not very simple. Surfactant is a detergent-like substance produced by the Type II alveolar cells in the walls of the alveoli. Surfactant is produced to reduce the surface tension of the water molecules that primarily compose the walls of the alveoli. For this experiment, we will be using milk and food coloring to represent the water (milk) and gas (food coloring) in…show more content…
The water in the walls of the alveoli help the alveolar walls come together during exhalation (when the oxygen leaves the alveoli), so that they stick together and allow the alveoli to reach their smallest size. The surfactant that is secreted aids the walls to be able to come together, but not with the attraction of their potential because it’s too strong. If they came together with their normal attraction, the walls would stick together and their strong surface tension would not allow them to unstick. A collapsed alveola will have to be completely re-inflated during each inspiration, which takes a lot of energy to do. With the surfactant, during inhalation the incoming gas is able to split the walls open because their attraction is not as strong. This way, the walls are able to come apart easier and make more space for the oxygen that fills up the alveoli. If our alveolar cells did not produce surfactant whatsoever, breathing would be very hard. Each inhalation would not have the easy flow it has now; it would take a lot of energy and not to mention be tougher.
Just like the water and gas in our lungs, the milk and food coloring would not have been able to mix. Both the liquid soap and the surfactant reduce the magnetic force that unites liquid molecules- in this case allowing milk and food coloring to mix. Without this experiment, we’d be overlooking one of the many