Kinder, Gentler Detergents And Household Products

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | November 23, 2010

Suppliers explain how they're developing the ingredients and solutions to create effective laundry and household cleaning products with improved environmental profiles.

Raw material suppliers say that they are providing the solutions that enable formulators to create household products that are better for the consumer and the environment—all while keeping an eye on costs. At the recent World Conference on Detergents, which was held in Montreux in October, several suppliers also noted that the best growth for household product manufacturers is in emerging markets, where consumers are turning in their bar soaps in favor of more convenient and effective cleaning formulas.

Novozymes has rolled out a new detergent enzyme solution called XPect, which it calls the first pectin-degrading enzyme for the detergent industry. XPect is able to degrade the pectin, thereby removing the stains, and as an additional benefit it is efficient even at 20°C.

Big Gains for Enzymes
In recent years, the enzyme category has been a growth segment within the laundry detergent category. In fact, while many observers characterized 2009 as a difficult year for the household cleaning product segment, Novozymes still reported a 6% gain in sales on top of annual 12% gains from 2006 to 2008.

But regardless of what the economy is doing, Novozymes has continued to innovate over the years and now offers five categories of enzymes, explained Anders Lund, senior director for household care, Novozmes.

Dow Fabric & Surface Care has introduced technology that adds moisture to hands as you do the dishes.
“We have by far, the largest selection of enzymes in the industry,” he insisted. “Detergent manufacturers are realizing that enzymes are the future of the industry.”

According to Lund, detergent formulators are replacing surfactants with enzymes —a move that was accelerated when oil hit $150 a barrel in 2008. Enzymes may be grabbing a bigger share in laundry detergent formulas, but the ultimate goal—which, for now is still 10 to 20 years away—is an enzymatic detergent.

“It would be low-temperature andbiodegradable. Right now, we can’t create one without surfactants because they optimize the enzyme’s performance,” explained Lund. “We need radical innovation to get us to a fully enzymatic detergent.

News from Cognis
The big news at Cognis, of course, is its pending acquisition by BASF that, at press time, was expected to close in the fourth quarter. Big news, indeed, but Cognis executives insist that it is business as usual at the company for the time being—even while the deal is closed and the discovery phase gets underway. With that in mind, the company has launched Dehydem Supra, which it calls a novel efficient defoamer for industrial and institutional cleaning applications that is easy to formulate and additionally provides a cleaning benefit. It is also suitable for low temperature applications and enables marketers to improve a product’s profile in a number of areas including ecotoxicology, energy savings and reducing complexity, according to Cognis.

“Our message continues to be sustainability; that won’t change,” explained Rita Koester, global marketing director, home care/I&I. “We have the ingredients and the complete formulations (to provide) solutions.”

No wonder why, then, that for the first half of 2010, Cognis’ Care Chemicals division reported a 16% gain in sales to 845 million euros. All regions contributed to the gains, but Asia-Pacific results were especially strong.

Providing sustainable solutions is one of Cognis’ strengths, as is its global footprint. Thomas Schroeder, vice president, care chemicals, global marketing care performance ingredients, noted that one of Cognis’ focus is on emerging markets which will continue to play an important role for the company. Just over a year ago, the company created Cognis India and it has been involved in Brazil and China for decades.

“China is an important player in the emerging markets and environmental protection is becoming more important which can be seen by the increasing emphasis by the Chinese government on environmental regulations. Also, China needs to offer products targeting the green demand in order to grow their sales in other parts of the world. Cognis is in the right position to offer solutions for China,” explained Schroeder.

For example, an alkyl polyglucoside plant was opened in China earlier this year and is now in full production.

“Many emerging markets, such as Brazil and China, expect innovative, sustainable solutions that do not compromise on performance,” explained Koester. “The green aspects of products are very important. Sustainability is a global issue.”

Optimization Is Key
Dow Fabric & Surface Care, a business unit of the Dow Chemical Company, recently introduced Ecosurf EH, a line of specialty surfactants designed to help customers meet rising expectations for performance and convenience while complying with more stringent environmental expectations and safety regulations. According to Dow Chemical, these new surfactants provide superior performance benefits in many formulations over alkylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs and OPEs) and/or fatty alcohol ethoxylates (PAEs) as well as other, commercially available alternative surfactant chemistries.

New products will continue to play an important role at Dow Chemical, but Carlos Silva Lopes, marketing director, Dow Fabric & Surface Care, noted that the company provides much more than a laundry list of ingredients to household product marketers.

“We are looking beyond simplyrolling out new molecules,” he explained. “We’re asking, ‘How do we optimize the ingredients that we have?’ After all, liquid laundry detergent has 12-15 ingredients. The challenge is, how do you make the formula perform even better?”

By combining two of its ingredients (Methocel and Polyox), Dow Fabric & Surface Care researchers created hand dish and hard surface cleaning formulations with increased foam density and volume with small bubble size, improved wet and dry feel on skin with a smooth after-feel and good surface compatibility and salt tolerance.

According to Robert Krasnansky, global research and development leader, Dow Fabric & Surface Care, the household care market is moving toward new performance features that call for using existing materials in new ways. For example, in a dish care formula, adding 0.2% Methocel/Polyox provides a boost to hand moisture—even while the consumer is doing the dishes.

In fact, Dow Chemical maintains that it is moving beyond clean by helping formulators create laundry that smells fresher and stays unwrinkled, carpeting that requires less-frequent vacuuming and sustainable cleaning products that are tough on dirt but safe to use and gentle on the environment.

“Despite the economic crises, no one stopped talking about sustainability, which remains a top concern for brand owners and consumers alike,” observed Silva Lopes.

ISP Adds More Additives
ISP took the opportunity at Montreux to unveil several new chemistries to help cleaning formulators develop better-performing and more cost-effective products for household, institutional and industrial applications. For instance, new Jaypol additives for cleaning include AT4 (a thickening agent for alkaline cleaners), S44 (scale dispersant for HI&I cleaners) and M30 (a dispersing agent for alkaline cleaners). In addition, Jaypol 213 (a thickening agent for fabric softeners) was launched alongside Nuosept BIT, a new biocide for household cleaners.

“All of our customers are striving to achieve better-performing and more cost-effective products,” explained Robert Gibbison, senior director of global marketing. “Whether this is through effective thickening of highly alkaline hard surface cleaners using Jaypol AT4, or achieving the right look and feel of fabric conditioners—without resorting to acrylamide—with Jaypol 213, our extensive range of Jaypol additives ensures that consumers continue to get the HI&I products they demand.”

He also pointed out that the company’s recent acquisition of Ionic Solutions and its acrylate expertise, as well as continued investments in established business lines, makes ISP well positioned to innovate and advance cleaning technology.

“ISP’s acquisition of certain assets of Ionic Solutions was critical in order to broaden the solutions ISP can offer our customers from our expanded chemistry tool box,” noted Gibbison. “We are now fully equipped to meet our customer’s needs by combining 400 years of acrylates R&D experience together with our traditional core strengths of alkyl pyrrolidone- and maleic anhydride-based polymers, specialty surfactants and biocide chemistry.

“When you take a fresh look at what ISP has to offer to the HI&I segment, you’ll realize that we have an answer to your formulation needs,” he said.

That’s a sentiment shared by many suppliers. In fact, no matter what the ingredients they offer to the global household care industry, all the industry suppliers who spoke with Happi noted that many of the answers to consumers’ questions can be found in their laboratories.

“Chemistry will play an important role in sustainability,” insisted Silva Lopes.

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