“What makes this, as well as every other New Horizons conference we produce a success is the top-notch quality speakers we attract who do an amazing job of forecasting various trends that impact a number of different areas up and down the supply chain” Tim Brown, CSPA vice president, regulatory counsel, explained about the conference. “Folks always come to us afterwards and tell us that they wish they had more colleagues join them because the material is so relevant to their business.”
Jan Shulman, Dow Chemical, opened the two-day program with a look at polymers for laundry, dish and hard surface cleaning applications. These polymers include dispersants, rheology modifiers, hydrophobically-modified polyacrylates, dye transfer inhibitors and defoamers.
During the past decade, several trends have been made possible by polymer technologies, including the introduction of non-phosphate automatic dishwashing detergents in North America in 2010 and Western Europe this year, unit dose formats and enhanced fragrance deposition.
Shulman predicted that polymers will continue to play an important role in product development in a wide range of applications like malodor reduction in fabric care, enhanced dirt pickup in wipes and regulatory pressures to reduce water usage.
“Cationic cellulosics improve dirt pickup,” asserted Shulman. “(As a result) There’s been a huge uptick in interest in wipes.”
There’s been a big increase in demand for “greener” surfactants, too, noted Ponisseril Somasundaran, Columbia University. To better understand colloid and interfacial chemistry of green surfactants and their mixtures, Somasundaran is employing a combination of batch experiments, spectroscopy and theoretical modelling. His group seeks industry partners to define, characterize and design greener model surfactant systems with desirable characteristics, with the goal of obtaining a fundamental understanding of the colloidal behavior and microstructures of these green surfactants in pure and mixed systems at interfaces and in solution. Finally, Somasundaran hopes to establish a correlation between their colloidal behavior and material properties.
Nanotechnology will have a major impact on cleaning product properties, noted Andrew Guttentag, Church & Dwight. Nanoparticles are already used in UV protection, antimicrobial action and stain resistance. But Guttentag noted that nanocomposites also have UV adsorption, antimicrobial and viscosity modification properties.
But nanotechnology can also be incorporated into cleaners, appliances and new devices to boost efficacy and keep soils from accumulating on services.
“There are over one thousand products in the marketplace that are using nanotechnology,” noted Guttentag. “Cleaning will be more efficient and nanostructures enable self-cleaning.”
Therefore, formulators must develop cleaning products that do not hinder or damage the nanotechnology that will be found in surfaces and fabrics. Guttentag also called for more lifecycle analysis to determine the effects that nanotechnology has on human health and the ecosystem.
Croda executives understand the benefits of green technology, that’s why the company has started up a bio-based ethoxylates plant at Atlas Point, DE—the first in North America. Croda’s Scott Jaynes cited one study that reported 70% of Americans say they’re searching for greener products. The Atlas Point site will produce a range of ethoxylated alcohols, soribtan esters, carboxylates, glycerides and more that will be 100% biobased and registered with the USDA BioPreferred Program.
In addition, bio-EO meets the same specifications as petroleum-based EO and ethoxylates are chemically identical to petroleum-based analogs.
“You don’t need to sacrifice performance to use biobased ethoxylates,” asserted Jaynes. “Increased bio-based content makes it easier to hit sustainability targets (set by) BioPreferred and other certifying bodies.”
Green chemistry remained the topic in a presentation by Lauren Zarama, InKemia Green Chemicals. She noted that nearly every conversation she has with industry begins with “do you have a replacement for…?”
In reply, InKemia executives ask: “What does X do?”
And, in many instances, InKemia does, indeed, have a replacement. Zarama walked attendees through case studies where InKemia was asked to find replacement chemicals for several formulas in a variety of industries including cosmetics, household and consumer goods, paints and coatings and textiles.
“Our highly diverse chemical library gives us the best opportunity to find an optimized solution for your company,” explained Zarama. “(We) have hundreds of green chemicals.”
Trends in I&I
Rebecca Korwin, VP-R&D, State Industrial, reported on the trends and the future of the $43 billion industrial and institutional (I&I) cleaning market which analysts estimate will grow 5.2% a year until 2026. One of the fastest-growing categories is disinfection for healthcare, restaurants, hotels, schools and jails. Unfortunately for industry, many customers are looking for chemical-free disinfecting solutions such as UV light, ozone and nonthermal plasma.
“Nonthermal plasma could be the future of I&I,” Korwin insisted. “People in the chemical industry must think about non-chemical solutions.”
She explained that NTP is a low energy discharge state of gaseous molecules. The energy intensity is so low, that the temperature of the excited species does not increase. However, excited radicals are generated which may undergo reaction. NTP can be used to control air pollutants and smog, obliterate odors and disinfect bacteria, according to Korwin.
Everyone talks about the Internet of Things (IoT), but nobody explains how to make money off it. Rob Miller of EAC tried to change all that with his presentation that described IoT as the underlying technology for manufacturing transformation.
“IoT opportunities can be split into two broad categories,” he said. “Using the technology to enhance a company’s products and using tech to improve service-business processes.”
He insisted that data is the new oil and those who master the IoT can make money by boosting revenue or reducing costs. Smart connected products enable new categories of capabilities with each building on the preceding one. He explained that by combining monitoring, control and optimization allows autonomous product operation, service and coordination with other product systems. At EAC, his company’s mission is to transform the way companies design, manufacture, connect to and service their products.
Mark Kozak of Beam Strategic Solutions gave advice on how to formulate products sustainably.
“We cannot be formulators alone any longer; there are too many perspectives to manage,” he told attendees. “One must be a business person who works in R&D, operations, marketing, sales. We have to think outside our normal roles and see many of the other facets as they develop.”
Sustainable formulating means moving beyond the original questions of what is being cleaning and how it is being cleaned to include raw material sourcing, packaging, recyclability and workplace safety. But some facets are more important than others. According to Kozak, the biggest impact we can have on sustainability and the planet is the reduction in energy usage.
Self-cleaning ovens? Of, course! Smart appliances? Absolutely. Toilets that sanitize themselves? You bet. Can homeowners finally leave all their household chores to Rosie the Robot? Not so fast. Stepan’s Terri Germain provided an entertaining presentation entitled “Will My House Finally Clean Itself?”
The short answer is, no, not yet, but there is hope. Germain walked the audience through a brief history of smart appliances; i.e., how the Internet of Things can control cycle starts and stops, energy usage, power mechanical issues and even anti-wrinkle help while clothing stays in the appliance. And Bosch has developed a scanner to help consumers identify the stains on their clothes and it also detects different types of fabrics to help clothes get cleaner.
But what happens when the consumer runs out of detergent or cleaning solution? According to Germain, Amazon Dash Buttons exist for 62 cleaning supplies. But today, consumers can go buttonless.
“In 2017, it is all about Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to a lesser extent,” observed Germain.
According to the Consumer Electronics Show, there are nearly 700 devices that integrate with Amazon Alexa voice control. But Germain warned that Amazon may have to share the category with fast-moving mobile rivals with a well-established consumer base.
All these devices are all well and good, but “What if I don’t want to do any cleaning at all?” asked Germain. She provided some answers. University College London researchers have developed a new smart window that includes a vanadium dioxide nanocoating that shields surfaces so that water rolls off, carrying dirt and dust with it. The windows could reach the market in 3-5 years. At RMIT University in Melbourne, researchers applied silver and copper nanostructures that absorb visible light, which excites electrons which, in turn, degrade organic molecules. The end result is that stains disappear after a few minutes of sun exposure.
The future of cleaning sounds bright, right? Germain tempered her presentation by warning that smart appliances make tempting targets for hackers and even spying by government agencies.
Despite the warning about spies among us, shoppers love their smart gadgets. According to GE Appliances’ Irena McDowell, 78% of consumers expect newly built homes to include smart home technology within the next five years. Furthermore, US smart home technology could double in 2017 to 30 million households with family safety and convenience as top motivators. These smart appliances can customize wash cycles, remind homeowners that they’re running low on laundry detergent and provide alerts like detecting dishwasher leaks, the oven is on or the refrigerator door is open.
“Data helps us improve the experience and make a better product,” asserted McDowell. “In the future, appliances will be able to make product recommendations to improve performance.”
Marketers who are first to market may discover that the best advertisement may come from their washing machine rather than their TV!
Just when consumers get used to the idea of living among smart appliances, they have to wrap their minds around being surrounded by smart walls and roofs as well, according to Sherwin-Williams’ Kathleen Gisser. She detailed growing demand for cool roof technology in hot spots such as California and Arizona, as well as solar-reflective cool walls and Tesla’s new solar roof tiles.
“Cool roofs and walls, and roof tiles must be cleaned,” she reminded attendees. “They all represent new opportunities for cleaning products.”
New Horizons underscored the idea that it’s a Brave New World when it comes to cleaning. Marketers and their supply partners who capitalize on artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are surely making smart, and profitable, decisions.
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