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Non-ionic Surfactants: Polyoxyethylene and Polyol Type

Oct. 22, 2021

Non-ionic surfactants are a class of surfactants whose molecules do not ionise when dissolved in water and were first developed by the German company IG before the Second World War. According to their hydrophilic groups, they are mainly divided into two categories: polyoxyethylene type and polyol type. SANCOLO shares with you.

Polyoxyethylene type

The general formula is RO(CH2CH2O)nH, which is prepared by reacting compounds containing active hydrogen atoms with ethylene oxide. The compounds containing active hydrogen commonly used in industry include fatty alcohols, alkyl phenols, fatty acids, fatty amines, fatty amides, polyols, fatty acid esters, fats and oils, sorbitol, etc.

The most commercially available non-ionic surfactants are the ethylene oxide adducts of fatty alcohols and alkylphenols. Polyoxyethylene surfactants are mostly soluble in water and have a wide range of applications, being used in many industrial sectors as detergents, penetrating agents, levelling agents and emulsifiers.

The aqueous solutions of non-ionic surfactants have poor foaming power and unstable foam. This is due to the large surface area of each molecule of the non-ionic surfactant and the fact that it is not charged at the interface of the foam. The chain length and relative molecular mass distribution of polyoxyethylene, the chain length and presence of branched chains of lipophilic groups, and the presence of polyoxyethylene-polyoxypropylene block copolymers all have a large influence on the foam of non-ionic surfactants. The surface activity is due to the presence of polar and non-polar parts in the molecular structure. This type of active agent is mainly used in oil recovery for foaming, emulsification, wax prevention, corrosion inhibition, retardation, oil well production increase, water well injection increase and oil formation recovery increase.



Polyol type

Ester or amide compounds produced by the interaction of compounds containing multiple hydroxyl groups with fatty acids. They are used as emulsifiers and dispersants in the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, in addition to being used as oils and softeners for fibres, because of their high safety and low skin irritation.

Non-ionic surfactants are highly stable and are not easily affected by acids and bases and strong electrolytes, and are very compatible with anionic and cationic surfactants or amphoteric surfactants and can be used in combination. It is highly stable and not easily affected by strong electrolytes and inorganic salts, nor by acids and bases; it is compatible with other types of surfactants and has good solubility in both water and organic solvents (depending on the structure).

Although these surfactants are not ionised in water, they have hydrophilic and lipophilic groups. Hydrophilic and lipophilic groups can interact with inorganic fillers and polymeric base materials respectively, strengthening the connection between the two and thus improving the compatibility between them. The flexible carbon chain between the two polar groups plays a plasticizing and lubricating role, giving the system toughness and fluidity and reducing the viscosity of the system, thus improving the processing performance of the composite material.



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