Towards more environmentally-friendly detergents

20-02-2016

As much as 90% of the energy used to wash clothes goes towards heating the water in washing machines. Procter and Gamble's researchers are trying to develop detergents that work at lower temperatures and they have used the ESRF with this goal.

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Company

Procter & Gamble (P&G)

Challenge

As much as 90% of the energy used to wash clothes goes towards heating the water in washing machines, so one of the main goals for companies like P&G is to develop detergents that work at lower temperatures. The majority of liquid detergent formulations exist as micellar solutions to ensure easy dosing and fast dissolution, but this requires the formula to have a high water content. If the water content is reduced, liquid crystals will start to form unless organic solvent is added, which adds more to the cost of a product and dents its environmental credentials. Another approach is to formulate it as liquid crystal, but the presence of other ions typically destabilises the product and causes “phase splits”.

Sample

Anionic surfactants, enzymes, polymers.

Solution

Researchers at P&G want to have a better knowledge of the microstructure of the colloidal formulations in order to tune the performance and stability of products, and meet the company´s environmental sustainability targets. Small Angle X-ray Scattering was used to map the phase diagram of Ariel Excel Gel to determine the regions that are physically stable within the formulation space of interest.

Benefits

Ariel Excel Gel boasts cleaning at 15 °C thanks to specially designed enzymes and polymers, offering considerable energy savings. It is also highly concentrated, requiring less water to manufacture and reducing transport and storage costs. It has become the first liquid detergent with a liquid-crystal microstructure with the lowest water content possible without the use of organic solvent.