Profile Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension of a liquid, the interfacial tension between two liquids, or that between a liquid and a solid. Surfactants may act as Air freshener, detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, and dispersants. Surfactants are usually organic compounds that are amphiphilic, meaning they contain both hydrophobic groups (their tails) and hydrophilic groups (their heads). Therefore, a surfactant molecule contains both water insoluble (or oil soluble) component and water soluble component. Surfactant molecules will diffuse in water and adsorb at interfaces between air and water or at the interface between oil and water, in the case where water is mixed with oil. The insoluble hydrophobic group may extend out of the bulk water phase, into the air or into the oil phase, while the water soluble head group remains in the water phase. This alignment of surfactant molecules at the surface modifies the surface properties of water at the water/air or water/oil interface.
Classification of Surfactants
- Anionic Surfactants
- Nonionic Surfactants
- Cationic Surfactants Dynamics of surfactants at interfaces
The dynamics of adsorption of surfactants is of great importance for practical applications such as foaming, emulsifying or coating processes, where bubbles or drops are rapidly generated and need to be stabilized. The dynamics of adsorption depends on the diffusion coefficient of the surfactants. Indeed, as the interface is created, the adsorption is limited by the diffusion of the surfactants to the interface. In some cases, there exists a barrier of energy for the adsorption or desorption of the surfactants, then the adsorption dynamics is known as 'kinetically-limited'. Such energy barrier can be due to steric or electrostatic repulsions. The surface rheology of surfactant layers, including the elasticity and viscosity of the surfactant layers plays a very important role in foam or emulsion stability. Application Surfactants play an important role as cleaning, wetting, dispersing, emulsifying, foaming and anti-foaming agents in many practical applications and products, including: Air Freshener, Dish wash liquid, Glass cleaner, Phenyl, Toilet cleaner, Floor cleaner, Hand wash, Herbicides (some), Insecticides, Quantum dot coatings, Biocides (sanitizers), Toothpastes, Firefighting, Pipelines, liquid drag reducing agent Market Potential Global demand for anionic surfactants was approximately 6.5 million tons in 2010. Anionic and non-ionic surfactants combined account for roughly 85 percent of global demand for surfactants. Most important buyers worldwide include manufacturers of household cleaners & detergents. Industrial cleaners accounted for just less than 9% of global consumption in 2010. Body care products and cosmetics had a 9.5% share. Other industrial applications such as agrochemicals, photochemicals, oil field chemicals, construction materials, food stuffs, adhesives, lubricants as well as metal working, mining and pulp & paper accounted for approximately 11% of worldwide consumption. Both laundry care and dishwashing products had extremely constrained rises in unit prices as mass-market categories such as hand dishwashing and bar detergents witnessed intense competition over the year. However, 2010 sales growth in terms of retail volume was comparable to and slightly higher than that seen over the review period. Surfactant demand from manufacturers of household cleaners like floor cleaner, toilet cleaner, glass cleaner etc. & detergents is predicted to rise by 2.6% per yr by 2018.
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