Tech Profile: Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate Production
By Intratec Solutions |
This column is based on the report “Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate Production – Cost Analysis,” published by Intratec. It can be found at the following URL: www.intratec.us/analysis/sles-e11a.
Sodium lauryl ether sulfate (also known as SLES and sodium laureth sulfate) is a clear and viscous liquid that is among the most important anionic surfactants. On an industrial scale, SLES is mainly produced by the ethoxylation of dodecanol, followed by the sulfation of the resulting ethoxylate and neutralization to the sodium salt.
Like other fatty alcohol sulfates and fatty alcohol ether sulfates, SLES has uses that are basically related to its surface-active properties. SLES molecules include both hydrophilic and hydrophobic functional groups. In fact, the possibility of altering those properties allows chemical processors to tailor these compounds to be used in a broad range of applications that demand good activity (that is, foaming and detergency), stability over a wide pH range, water solubility, chemical compatibility and so on. With such versatility, these chemicals are widely used in cosmetic products and in industrial cleaners.
Figure 1. The diagram shows a process for producing sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES)[/caption]