Lighten Up!


  • Margot Vigeant Bucknell University



Bubbles are loved and loathed by chemical engineers. We seek them in order to boost contact surface area between liquid/vapor phases in distillation and stripping, and dread their unexpected occurrence in pipes or tanks. Bubbles turn out to be key to the structure and flavor of foods from angel food cake to zwieback. The incorporation of bubbles into baked goods is leavening, and leavening consists of three parts. First, there’s the incorporation of nucleation sites into the dough. Then there’s the generation (or further incorporation) of gas to grow the nucleated bubbles. Finally, there’s the thermal expansion of the bubbles to give us airy and flavorful breads and cakes. Let’s take a brief tour through the chemical engineering of tasty bubbles!

Author Biography

Margot Vigeant, Bucknell University

Margot Vigeant is Rooke Professor of Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University. She teaches chemical engineering thermodynamics, applied food science and engineering, and capstone design. Margot’s broad research area is effective pedagogy in engineering, including approaches to conceptual learning and inquiry-based activities for thermodynamics and heat transfer. She is also interested in “making” in engineering and using technology to broaden engagement and access. Margot completed her doctorate at the University of Virginia. She is an ASEE Fellow, Apple Distinguished Educator, and chair of the 2022 ASEE Chemical Engineering Summer School. 






Food For Thought