SURFACTANT MARKET UPDATE
Stepan’s surfactants sales volume increased in Latin America following the
2016 acquisition of Tebras Tensoativos do
Brazil Ltda’s commercial business and
PBC Industria Quimica Ltda’s sulfonation production facility within the greater São Paulo, Brazil area. Combined, the
acquired entities had annual sales of approximately $32 million and 25,000 metric
tons of sulfonation capacity. The acquisitions brought Stepan the opportunity to
sell its surfactants to 1,200 potential new
customers, according to Anne Gariepy.
Sustainability, doing more with less and
efficacy are all common themes driving
surfactant sales. Stepan executives say
these themes are providing a lift to its
business. For example, Ninol CAA has
greater than 85%, bio-based carbon and
can provide multiple benefits such as improved viscosity, fragrance solubilization
and skin feel, according to Terri Germain.
Under the doing more with less theme,
Stepan’s Steposol Citri-Met is a dilutable,
concentrated cleaning blend is customizable on dilution to accommodate additives
to adjust pH or extra reserve buffering.
At 20% use levels, customers can create
powerful graffiti removers, oven cleaners,
and oilfield rig wash cleaners. At 5%, a
range of products can be created including
multi-purpose cleaners, fabric pre-wash
spot removers, and bug and tar removers
for automotive care.
“The patented combination of Stepan
ingredients with citrus extracts provides
a new cleaning mechanism to remove
tough stains, including ink, blood and
iodine, even when diluted to 5-10%,” explained Ron Masters, who added that in
many cases, customers have been able to
replace a majority of solvent-based cleaners with diluted Steposol Citri-Met.
“Steposol Met-10U and Citri-Met prove
that it is possible to design surfactants that
are naturally-derived and that address the
cleaning and environmental needs of today’s market,” concluded Germain.
According to Roach, demand for
betaines and amphoterics has been
partially offset by weakness in sales of
DEA and MEA amides. He blamed the
decline on regulations.
At Croda, customers are more interested
these days on bio-based or renewable clean-
ing products, as well as increased concentra-
tion. According to Hanson, Croda chemists
are often asked to help boost performance
through the company’s specialty range of
surfactants and its formulation expertise.
“We expect this challenge to become
easier once our bio based EO plant comes
on stream and we start producing 100% re-
newable, 100% bio-based surfactants,” he
predicted. “Customers will no longer have
to sacrifice performance to be bio-based.”
At the same time, the Croda executive
has noticed an increasing interest regard-
ing performance and increased concen-
tration—both come into play in reducing
cleaning time and supply chain costs.
Jeen International is a niche, value-add
player in the surfactant market, focusing
on properties such as mildness, gentle-
ness, foam control, and residual feel vs.
dryness. According to Babik, Jeen carries a
unique line of concentrates that answers
the growing demand for formulas that ca-
ter to sensitive skin. Jeechem Concentrates
checks all the boxes making it convenient
for multinationals and emerging compa-
nies alike, he added.
“We are delivering a cocktail surfactant that is stable, mostly electrolyte
tolerant and gives the formulators everything they are looking for in a single
ingredient,” Babik explained.
For Cedar Concepts, North American
demand is growing for amphoterics, esters and emulsifiers. In contrast, there’s
been a drop in certain blends, and certain alkanolamide sales are down due to
regulatory issues, according to Arundel.
In contrast, there’s growing demand for
sulfate-free formulation blends.
Tongue planted firmly in cheek, Low
said waterless systems have generated
some waves in Lonza’s surfactant business.
“With growing concern over water
scarcity around the globe, the demand for
waterless systems is increasing,” he said.
Surfactant growth varies, according to
James Esposito of BASF, who noted that
more commoditized surfactants are grow-
ing at a stable rate versus the specialty
surfactant market. Taking a closer look at
the category, demand for lauric-based sur-
factants for use in personal care is grow-
ing, while in home care, use of synthetic/
petro-based surfactants is continuing. At
What’s in your formula? Consumers want to know more than ever.