Solublization may occur in a system consisting of a solvent, an association colloid (i.e., a colloid that forms micelles), and at least one other component called the solubilizate (i.e., the component that undergoes solublization).
Solubilization is the process of incorporation of the solubilizate into or onto the micelles.
Usage of the term
Solubilization is distinct from dissolution because the resulting fluid is a colloidal dispersion involving an association colloid. This suspension is distinct from a true solution, and the amount of the solubilizate in the micellar system can be different (often higher) than the regular solubility of the solubilizate in the solvent.
In non-chemical literature and in everyday language, the term "solubilization" is sometimes used in a broader meaning as "to bring to a solution or (non-sedimenting) suspension" by any means, e.g., leaching by a reaction with an acid.
Micellar solublization is widely utilized, e.g. in:
- laundry washing using detergents,
- in pharmaceutical industry, for formulations of poorly soluble drugs in solution form,
- in cleanup of oil spills using dispersants.
Literature distinguishes two major mechanisms of solubilization process of oil by surfactant micelles, affecting the kinetics of solubilization:
- Surface reaction, i.e., by transient adsorption of micelles at the water-oil interface, and
- bulk reaction, whereby the surfactant micelles capture dissolved oil molecules.
- Micellar solublization. In: International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, "Compendium of Chemical Terminology" ("the Gold Book"), 2nd edition. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, 1997. (2006-)
- Jain A, Ran Y, Yalkowsky S, "Effect of pH-Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Combination on Solubilization of PG-300995 (an Anti-HIV Agent): A Technical Note." AAPS PharmSciTech. 2004; 5(3): article 45. 
- P. D. Todorov, P. A. Kralchevsky, N. D. Denkov, G. Broze, and A. Mehreteab, "Kinetics of Solubilization of n-Decane and Benzene by Micellar Solutions of Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate". Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 245, 371–382 (2002), doi:10.1006/jcis.2001.8031 
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