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Characteristics and Classifications of a Surfactant

Surfactant refers to a substance that can significantly change the interface state of the solution system by adding a small amount. It has fixed hydrophilic and lipophilic groups, which can be aligned on the surface of the solution.


1. The characteristics and applications of a surfactant


The molecular structure of surfactants is amphiphilic: one end is a hydrophilic group, and the other end is a hydrophobic group; the hydrophilic group is often a polar group, such as carboxylic acid, sulfonic acid, sulfuric acid, amino or amine group and its salts. And hydroxyl groups, amide groups, ether bonds, etc. can also be used as polar hydrophilic groups; while the hydrophobic groups are often non-polar hydrocarbon chains, such as hydrocarbon chains with more than 8 carbon atoms. Surfactants are divided into ionic surfactants (including cationic surfactants and anionic surfactants), non ionic surfactants, amphoteric surfactants, compound surfactants, and other surfactants.


Surfactants boast physical and chemical functions and corresponding practical applications of wetting or anti-sticking property, emulsification and demulsification, foaming or defoaming, solubilization, dispersion, washing, anti-corrosion, anti-static and other properties, and are a kind of flexible and versatile fine chemical products with a wide range of uses. In addition to being used as detergents in daily life, other applications of surfactants can cover almost all fine chemical fields. They are also used in petrochemical and other chemical production.


2. The distinction of a surfactant


(1) Non ionic surfactants: second only to anionic surfactants in quantity, mainly including polyoxyethylene type, polyol type, and alkyl alcohol amide type. It can also be subdivided into many types.


(2) Anionic surfactant: the part of the negatively charged surfactant that acts as surface activity after ionization in water is called anionic surfactant. From the structure, anionic surfactants are divided into four categories: fatty acid salt, sulfonate, sulfate ester salt and phosphate ester salt.


(3) Cationic surfactant: the surface-active ions generated when ionized in an aqueous solution are positively charged, and their hydrophobic base is similar to that of anionic surfactants. The hydrophilic group ions of cationic surfactants contain nitrogen atoms, which are classified into three types: amine salt, quaternary ammonium salt and heterocyclic type according to the position of the nitrogen atom in the molecule.


(4) Zwitterionic surfactants: usually the surfactants containing both cation and anion in the hydrophilic structure are called amphoteric surfactants. It mainly includes imidazoline type and amino acid type.


(5) Special surfactants include: fluorine-containing type, silicon-containing type, boron-containing type, polymer type, etc.


Different industries are suitable for different types of surfactants. Here WHAMINE reminds customers not to choose surfactants blindly because of the price. If you need to learn more about surfactant products, please continue to follow us.

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