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Future of green surfactants lies in unusual materials

Engreadea News  Analysis
A new Technical Insights report on green surfactants and emulsifiers found that novel materials will be the future of green surfactants.

Consumer demand for green personal-care and home-care products is spurring advances in the creation of sustainable materials for surfactants.

Green surfactants are now widely used; they include alkypolyglucosides, plant-based saponins, amino acid derivatives, and betaines. However, the future appears to be with materials made from renewable feedstock by new technologies. A recent example of such a material is BASF’s Dehyton AO 45; it is the first 100 percent Cocoamidopropyl betaine produced by a controlled fermentation process from microalgae oils.

A new Technical Insights report on green surfactants and emulsifiers found that novel materials will be the future of green surfactants.

As will be shown at the Sustainable Cleaning Products Summit, advances in enzyme technology are spurring bio-surfactant production. Bio-fermentation routes for the production of important surfactant building blocks, such as amino acids, organic acids, carbohydrates, ethylene and acetic acid (from bio-ethanol), are expected to become the norm in the future.

Green surfactants from waste biomass and agricultural raw materials are gaining popularity as companies look to move away from petroleum feedstock. More companies are expected to use sustainable sourced materials. For instance, Clariant’s GlucoTain range of sugar-based surfactants is made from RSPO certified palm oil and coconut oils. The four grades of surfactants are marketed as sustainable alternatives to alky polyglucosides.

Personal care and home care companies are looking at alternatives to synthetic surfactants and emulsifiers because of growing pressure to use sustainable materials. Consumer demand for green products, as well as growing awareness of the environmental & health impacts of contentious chemicals are driving this change.

The range of green emulsifiers remains comparatively limited. Naturally derived materials, especially nonionics and blends are most commonly used in natural skin care products. Interesting developments in this area involve oleosomes from plant oils. Companies like Botaneco have developed oleosomes that act as delivery systems for active ingredients in personal care formulations.

The range of green materials is expected to widen;  however, questions remain over price and performance. Research finds few materials are cost-effective compared to conventional emulsifier and surfactant systems.

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