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Performance and Characteristics of Common Non-ionic Surfactants

Introduction of Non-ionic Surfactants

Many non-ionic surfactants are commonly used in cleaning products. In industrial and public facility detergents, many varieties of non-ionic surfactants are used as main detergents, while most varieties are used as auxiliaries and washing aids.

Properties and Characteristics of Common Non-ionic Surfactants

Fatty Alcohol Polyoxyethylene Ether (AEO)

The hydrophobicity of AEO varies with the length of alkyl chains, and its water solubility varies with the number of EO. For example, the products of coconut alcohol can be used as detergents, while the products of C18 alcohol can only be used as emulsifiers and leveling agents. Natural alcohols have better detergency and emulsifying properties than synthetic alcohols, while synthetic alcohols have relatively good water solubility (due to the effect of odd-carbon atoms). The more EO is added, the stronger the water solubility of the product. AEO with an EO number of less than 6 is oil-soluble, and AEO with an EO number greater than 6 is water-soluble. The more EO, the lower the cloud point of the product.

Alkyl Phenol Polyethylene Ether (TX-10, OP-10, OΠ-10)

Alkyl phenol polyethylene ether is formed by condensation of alkyl phenol and epichlorohydrin. The hydrophobic group can be phenol, cresol, naphthol, etc., the most valuable being nonylphenol. The average number of epoxide rings is also different. Using nonylphenol as an example, when it is condensed with 4 EO, it is not soluble in water. When it is condensed with 6-7 EO, the product is completely soluble in water at room temperature. The product condensed with 8-12 EO has the excellent wetting ability, penetration, washing ability, emulsifying ability, and low foaming effect. When EO is condensed to more than 15, the product loses its penetration and washing ability and can only be used as a special emulsifier and dispersant.


Alkylamide is a large and old type of non-ionic surfactant, with many varieties and quantities. It can be directly used as an industrial detergent, or used as a foam booster, foam stabilizer, rust inhibitor, thickener, and solubilizer in detergents.

Polyol Esters

Polyol esters surfactants belong to non-ionic surfactants. Due to strong hydrophobic groups and residual hydroxyl groups as hydrophilic groups, these products are mostly insoluble in water or have poor hydrophilicity. They are mainly used as oil-soluble emulsifiers and lubricants for skin or fibers and are mainly used as auxiliaries in detergents.

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