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Special Surfactants

Our special surfactants mainly refer to silicone surfactants, polymer surfactants, natural surfactants and fluoro surfactants.

Silicone surfactants

Silicone surfactants are also amphilic materials but the group other than the silicone-soluble group can be oil- or water-soluble. The silicone surfactant, if composed of silicone- and water-soluble groups, will lower the surface tension of water to around 20 dynes/cm2.

Silicone surfactants have the intriguing and commercially viable ability to reduce the surface tension of polar and non-polar liquids to values 15–20 mN/m lower than commonly achieved with organic-based surfactants. Silicone surfactants demonstrate a marked tendency to form aggregate structures featuring surfactant bilayers including vesicles and lamellar liquid crystals. This tendency has been recently applied in the development of silicone vesicles as nanoscale delivery "vehicles" and in the templating of lamellar metal oxide structures.

A structure of silicone surfactantFig 1. A structure of silicone surfactant

Silicone surfactant can be used in various applications

Applications of silicone surfactantsFig 2. Applications of silicone surfactants

As wetting agent enhances performance of herbicides and pesticides by dramatically reducing the product's surface tension, results in better spread and penetration of herbicides on the targeted leaves. This improved efficacy and to minimize the amount of the chemicals needed.

Inks and Coatings
Provides better slip, improved mar resistance, better levelling and foam control. Effective at very low concentrations hence are cost effective.

Provide defoaming, lubrication, final product's softness, feel, wear ability, versatility and improved processing during the manufacturing stage.

Pulp and Paper
Improve various defoaming, drainage and better release. Also increases softness, absorbance or repellence of final products.

Personal Care
Improved softness, shine, conditioning, detangling and emollience. Also used as emulsifiers for creams and sun care products to improve stability and efficacy aesthetic delivery.

Improve both natural and synthetic leather's feel, softness, durability, abrasion resistance and resistance to soiling.

Improve gloss, shine and beading to various products.

Oil and Gas
As organic demulsifier. As processing aids in many applications.

Polyurethane Foam
As stabilizers for the polyurethane foam industry.

Polymer surfactants

Polymer surfactant is a surfactant that consists of polymer both for head and tail groups. They might be a block copolymer or graft copolymer. The polymer surfactant also forms micelles in solution above CMC.

Differences between polymer surfactant and conventional surfactantFig 3. Differences between polymer surfactant and conventional surfactant

Polymeric surfactants are specially designed to produce excellent dispersing agent (for suspensions) and emulsifiers (for emulsions). Several molecules have been introduced such as the block copolymers of polyethylene oxide (PEO) and polypropylene oxide (PPO). These are A–B–A block copolymers with the structure PEO–PPO–PEO and molecules are commercially available with various proportions of PEO and PPO. Other types of A–B block copolymers are those based on polystyrene (PS) and PEO. Graft copolymers with one B chain and several A chains also exist such as a graft of poly(methylmethacrylate) with a number of PEO side chains. These polymeric surfactants have been applied for the preparation of highly concentrated suspensions and emulsions to enhance their long term stability.

Natural surfactants

There are many definitions used throughout the various commercial sectors to market "natural products." In speaking of terms of 100% natural, one definition could be, "any ingredient isolated from a plant that acts as a surfactant." Natural surfactants can be derived from many types of plants. Common sources are coconut or palm, but they can also be derived from other types of fruits and vegetables.

Natural surfactantFig 4. Natural surfactant

There are many natural surfactants on the market today, and with increased consumer demand. Several examples of nature surfactants listed below:

Coco Glucoside
Coco glucoside can be obtained from either potato or corn. It is a very gentle, foamy cleanser and is completely biodegradable. You can use it in products that you want to have an ECOCERT certification. It has an alkaline pH (around 12) which makes it self-preserving.

Decyl Glucoside
It is derived from coconut oil and glucose and is completely biodegradable. It can be used in all sorts of shampoos, gels, baby products, etc.

Lauryl Glucoside
It has a longer chain length and more viscosity. It takes longer to foam than the other two, but it also has the most stable foam. While it is also a mild cleanser, it isn’t as mild as the other 2 alkyl polyglucosides.

Coco Betaine
Coco betaine is a coconut based amphoteric surfactant. It's mild and can help boost foam and increase the viscosity of products made with it. It's very mild and provides for gentle cleansing. It's completely biodegradable and has a pH around 6-8.

Fluoro surfactants

A fluoro surfactant is a surfactant that contains a perfluoroalkyl group. Fluorosurfactants are designed to deliver high performance for surface wetting, leveling, gloss development, surface modification, and use in extreme environments.

Fluoro surfactant can realize low surface tension with smaller adding amount as compared with generally used hydrocarbon surfactants or silicone surfactants. In other words, this is a surfactant that has a low critical micelle concentration and a low critical surface tension.

Fluoro surfactant can be used in various applications

Applications of fluoro surfactantsFig 5. Applications of fluoro surfactants

Paints and Coatings
As multifunctional additives to simplify formulations for paints and coatings, especially those formulated with low- or no-VOC chemistry.

Cleaners and Waxes
Fluoro surfactants are cost-effective additives that enhance professional-use cleaners, polishes, and waxes by thoroughly wetting a substrate, allowing the cleaner to further penetrate deep dirt and stains. They also provide improved leveling characteristics and surface properties in floor care formulations.

Adhesives, Sealants, and Caulks
Adhesive applications exist in many forms, such as adhesives for tape, hot-melt, and wood (and other porous surfaces). Adding a small amount of a fluoro surfactant improves the adhesive's wetting and penetration into substrate pores to strengthen the bond.

For print acceptors, fluoro surfactants improve the wetting and leveling for ink, adhesion, abrasion resistance, and reduced ink transfer.