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Applications of Nonionic Surfactants - Castor Oil, Alkylphenol, Fatty Amines Ethoxylates

The surface active agents which do not disassociate into ions in aqueous solutions are referred as nonionic surfactants. Nonionic surfactants have best applications in industries in form of cleaning agents or detergents. These are preferred over the ionic surfactants which are usually insoluble in hard water and considered to be poor cleaners. The best thing about non ionic surfactant products is that they are excellent solvents and have high chemical stability. Because of these properties these are widely used as surface active gents in various industries. They are used as wetting agents, detergents, emulsifiers and solubilizers in textile, agriculture, cosmetics and health care industrial sectors. The majority of the nonionic surfactants used in industries are processed from the ethoxylation process. In an ethoxylation process ethylene oxide is made to react with alcohols, fatty acids, phenol, amines etc to form different types of surface active agents. Some of the popular variants of nonionic surface active agents widely employed in industries include fatty alcohol ethoxylate, alkylphenol ethoxylate, glycerine ethoxylates, fatty amines ethoxylate, castor oil ethoxylate and fatty acid ethoxylates.

Castor Oil Ethoxylates

Polyethoxylated castor oil or castor oil ethoxylates are derivatives of ethoxylation of castor oil and ethylene oxide. These are nonionic surfactants which are widely used in oral, topical and pharmaceutical formulations. They can be used as emulsifying or solubilizing agents as well, and are therefore suitable for the production of aqueous liquid preparations in industries. In cosmetics, these are widely used as solubilizing agents for perfume bases and are often used as replacements to castor oil in production of hand lotions.

Alkylphenol Ethoxylate

Alkylphenol ethoxylates are produced by ethoxylation of alkylphenols like octylphenol, nonylphenol, propylphenol, dodecylphenol etc. The basic application of these ethoxylate products is in form of detergents and emulsifiers in industrial applications. Alkylphenol ethoxylate derivatives are used in pesticides, lube oil, hair dyes, hair care products, and in spermicides.

Fatty Amines Ethoxylates

Ethoxylation of amines with ethylene oxide produces a bi-product called fatty amines ethoxylate. These are nonionic surfactants which can be used in formulating emulsifier blends. They are mainly used as wetting agents, agrochemical emulsifiers, industrial cleaners, metal cleaners, stabilizers, sanitizers, dispersants and defoaming agents. They are also used in metal, drilling, textile, paper and chemical industries.

Fatty Alcohol Ethoxylates

When ethylene oxide reacts with lauryl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, behenyl alcohol, oleyl cetyl alcohol and other fatty alcohols, the fatty alcohol ethoxylates are produced. These alcohol ethoxylates are used in cosmetics and textile industries as emulsifying and solubilizing agents. They are widely used as wetting and cleaning agents in cosmetics, agriculture, textile, paper, oil and various other process industries.

Fatty Acid Ethoxylates

Fatty acids like lauric acid, stearic acid, oleic acid and others when react with ethylene oxide give rise to derivatives of these fatty acids also known as fatty acid ethoxylates. Some of the popular ethoxylated fatty acids used in industries are stearic acid ethoxylates, lauric acid ethoxylates, oleic acid ethoxylates and coconut fatty acid ethoxylates. Like other ethoxylate products these are also nonionic and are widely employed in cleaning, scouring, bleaching applications.

This article has been written by Govindbhai Mathurdas Patel.