Alcohol ethoxylates, which are produced via the ring-opening oligomerization of ethylene oxide via a fatty alcohol initiator, are a special class of nonionic surfactants that are commonly used in a variety of industrial and commercial applications. Uses of such alcohol ethoxylates can vary depending on the sourcing of the fatty alcohol itself, as the structure of these nonionic surfactants dictates their physical properties and their application potential.
In many cases, the distribution of the lipophilic, carbon-rich, fatty alcohol plays a very important role in the overall application use of the final product. For example, long chain alcohol ethoxylates are readily used in the personal care market as viscosity modifiers and emollients for lotions and creams, whereas ethoxylates from shorter-chain alcohols are used as low foaming detergents and cleaners.
Oxiteno has recently expanded their portfolio, introducing a new line of highly pure, linear synthetic alcohol ethoxylates featuring a unique carbon chain distribution ranging from C9 to C11 (ALKOSYNT® 9100 series, CAS: 68439-46-3). Due to their low-to-medium alkyl chain length, these C9-C11 alcohol ethoxylates provide high surface activity, low aquatic toxicity, and are readily biodegradable making them very popular for the industrial & institutional markets, home care, paints & coatings, oil & gas, as well as agrochemical applications. Please visit our full list of Oxiteno’s C9-C11 alcohol ethoxylates for more information.
These shorter C9-C11 alkyl chains allow these alcohol ethoxylates to typically wet a soiled surface at an increased rate as compared to longer alkyl chain (+C14) surfactants of identical molar ethoxylation. This increased rate of wetting is a direct consequence of the size of the surfactant’s hydrophobic chain, as smaller alkyl chains tend to diffuse faster in solution than their larger counterparts.1-2 The diffusion of the these types of alcohol ethoxylates quickly brings the surfactants to the interface of water and a given substrate (air, cotton, dirt, etc.). This rapid diffusion of the C9-C11 nonionic surfactants results in this increased rate of wetting resulting in an alcohol ethoxylate that is excellent at penetrating a soiled surface (i.e. cleaning the bathroom floor), and thus are commonly used as cleaning agents, degreasers and detergents. The incorporation of C9-C11 alcohol ethoxylates into cleaning products gives the consumer a product that is able to clean a soiled surface quicker, and more efficiently, while not leaving an oily residue on the newly cleaned surface.
The use of synthetic C9-11 alcohol ethoxylates can further be tailored to various applications by varying the degree of ethoxylation thereby varying the hydrophilic/lipophilic balance (HLB). The degree of ethoxylation on the C9-C11 alcohol ethoxylates typically determines the surfactants water solubility, emulsion/solubilization strength and the working temperature of the surfactant (i.e. cleaning surfaces at higher temperatures). The lower HLB C9-C11 alcohol ethoxylates (ALKOSYNT® 9125, HLB 8.6) are used as degreasers and oil soluble dispersants, while higher HLB C9-C11 alcohol ethoxylates (ALKOSYNT® 9160 HLB 12.5 and ALKOSYNT®9180 HLB 13.9) exhibit excellent wetting properties making them ideal for use as cleaning agents and emulsifiers.
The ALKOSYNT® 9100 series will be produced in Oxiteno’s new state of the art production facility, located in Pasadena, TX, which is equipped with a 25 and 40 MT ethoxylation unit and can produce up to 170 KT per year. Being strategically placed in the US Gulf, allowing for easy access to raw materials and logistics, the new facility was designed to withstand category 5 hurricane winds and rain to ensure safety and feasibility. For questions regarding OXITENO’s capabilities and their new line of C9-11 alcohol ethoxylates (ALKOSYNT®), please visit Oxiteno US Contact Page.
1-Porter, Maurice R. Handbook of surfactants. Springer, 2013.
2-Rodriguez‐Abreu, Carlos, and Hironobu Kunieda. “Equilibrium and dynamic surface tension properties of aqueous solutions of sulfonated cationic‐nonionic fluorocarbon surfactants.” Journal of dispersion science and technology 26.4 (2005): 435-440.