Surface treatment is gaining increased attention as an environmentally-friendly approach to combat crystallization fouling by minimizing adhesion energies between precursors and the substrate. What specific components of the surface energy cause this to happen though is still a matter of much debate. The present study aims at developing a criterion by identifying what interaction energies and surface energy components would cause a surface to foul. The proposed criterion shows that the Lewis acid-base interaction energy has a strong implication on the adhesion process. Most notably, increased Lewis base polarity component provides a higher repulsive energy, which in turn reduces the adhesion force between precursors and the substrate. The criterion was validated with the experimental data of this study and some previous studies of crystallization- and bio-fouling which showed that the tendency of surfaces to foul decreases when the electron donor component increases.
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