Household detergents, who leads innovation?
It is seldom appreciated how much surfactants pervade our living environment. But it is enough to look around with an inquisitive eye to realize that everything we see has used surfactants at one stage or another (actually often at many) of its existence.
Combine this with the reality that the use of surfactants is in most instances sacrificial and the image of an endless bonanza for the industry is materializing. Enormous volumes end down the drain in washing processes demanding a continuous and largely predictable supply stream to the formulators.
But there is the other side of the coin: the technology is mature, the production processes are well established, the manufacturing hardware for the volume surfactants can be bought key-on-the-door and is not capital intensive, certainly compared to the massive investments demanded by other chemicals.
Add to this that the profitability of the early realizations, fueled by a burgeoning demand of the fast growing household detergents market, encouraged the emergence of many producers. Some integrated regarded surfactants as a juic ...