The hidden treasures


Guido Bognolo
Scientific advisory board of H&PC Today – household and Personal Care today (TKS Publisher)

The image of pirates, corsairs or buccaneers hiding the booty of their raids in difficult-to-reach hideouts has been widely portrayed in books and movies, with R.L. Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” being probably one of the best known. Central in these stories (some of which, by the way, are based on real historic events) are the maps drawn by the marauders recording the hiding place of the treasures, such to retrieve them at later times.
There are no maps to locate hidden treasures in the world of surfactants, yet there are many of them dormant and ready to be unearthed.
First, early surfactants technologists have left treasures of knowledge in patents and publications. Unfortunately with time this material has fallen into oblivion. I have not seen much interest in revisiting it and learning from the experience of the past, not only in terms of actual discoveries but also of the rationale that led to them. Alkylpolyglucosides, the big hope of the 1990ties were synthesized by Fisher nearly a century earlier. Paraffin sulphonates were the 1970ties revival of technology developed industrially in Germany in the mid 1930ties. Sulphonated methyl esters are an evol ...