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Ethoxylated fatty acid methyl esters as non-ionic surfactants.

Project aim is to implement ethoxylated fatty acid methyl
esters as a new bulk production, non-ionic surfactants and
their commercialisation in the detergent industry.

The project aims to introduce ethoxylated fatty acid methyl esters as a new surfactant in the detergent industry. It is well established that the surfactants market is generally shared among two major products - dodecylbenzene sulfonate (anionic surfactant) and ethoxylated alcohols (non-ionic surfactants). It appears that the subject fatty acid methyl ester ethoxylates (FAMEE-s) should compete on the market with the fatty alcohol derivatives, based on shorter life cycle of the product and lower manufacturing costs. Ethoxylation of fatty acid methyl esters can be performed with special catalysts on existing conventional ethoxylation plants, without additional investments. The technology is already developed and the products can be made available. The idea of direct ethoxylation of fatty acid methyl esters was first reported by LION CORPORATION (JAPAN) followed by CONDEA of the USA. In the meantime the technology has also been developed successfully at ICSO in POLAND. The project is designed to collect physico-chemical and performance data for the new surfactant series and to develop a net of potential manufacturers and end users of the product which is anticipated to be a non-ionic alternative to alcohol ethoxylates. Until now fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) have not been considered as a raw material for direct ethoxylation while there is no labile hydrogen group present in the molecule. Direct ethoxylation of fatty esters is now possible using a special catalyst prepared by ICSO. European partners within the project will investigate performance of the products, comparing them to alcohol ethoxylates as their conventional counterparts. Comparable environmental determination of FAMEE and fatty alcohol ethoxylates (biodegradation and environmental toxicity) is anticipated to confirm the high quality of the new surfactants. Academic and industrial R&D laboratories should develop applications of FAMEE in full formulations, including conducting appropriate standard procedures necessary for their access to the market. As a result FAMEE should become available commercially and be advertised worldwide as a competitive and modern product for the surfactant industry. A fully detailed offer for the new non-ionic surfactant series (various hydrophobe lengths and with average polyaddition degrees from 2 to 14) is going to be presented as the result of joint efforts of the project partners. For that purpose the following activities are foreseeen: 1. Preparation of series of FAMEE consisting of the major type of hydrophobes available on the open market, representing fatty acid methyl esters fraction C18 (from tallow and rapeseed oil) and C12-C14, each with average ethoxylation degree from 2 to 14. 2. Establishment of standard analytical procedures for determination of homologue distributions and by- products content, like dioxane and free ethylene oxide. 3. Presentation of physico-chemical data of the product series, including chemostability and safety data sheet. 4. Investigation of FAMEE as a non-ionic ingredient in full formulations of washing agents, personal care products, emulsifiers and other commercial detergents for domestic and industrial uses. 5. Comparison of FAMEE with appropriate fatty alcohol ethoxylates on economic, performance and ecological bases. 6. Implementation and exploitation of FAMEE as a bulk production non-ionic surfactant. The above activities will be shared among different laboratories representing academic centres, research institutes, industrial manufacturers and potential end users (formulators). Well qualified and equipped academic centres will perform basic research together with institutes involved in ecological and performance evaluation of the surfactants. Finally, industrial manufacturers of ethoxylates should be attracted to start the production and applications parallel to alcohol ethoxylates. Marketing activities and reports to scientific meetings and professional journals should follow the obtained results. References: Raymond A.M. - 4th World Surfactants Congress, Barcelona, June 1996. Hama I, Okamoto T., Nakamura H. - AOCS Annual Meeting and Expo, Anahaim, Calif, April 1993. Hama I, Okamoto T., Nakamura - J. American Oil Chem. Soc, 1995 Hama I, Okamoto T., Hidai E., Yamada K. - J. American Oil Chem. Soc. 1997 Sasamoto H., Sakaki M., Hama I., Inagaki T. - 88th AOCS Annual Meeting and Expo, Seattle, May 1997 Cox M.F. - two presentations 88th AOCS Annual Meeting and Expo, Seattle, May 1997. Keywords: surfactants, production, application.
Acronym: 
FAMEE
Project ID: 
1 964
Start date: 
15-01-1998
Project Duration: 
42months
Project costs: 
760 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.