Researchers Awarded for Hydrophilic/Lipophilic Surfactant Work

The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) awarded Edgar Acosta, PhD, Art Bhakta, and Jessica Yuan from the University of Toronto's department of chemical engineering and applied chemistry with the 2008 SDA Distinguished Paper Award, recognizing a research article published in the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents, for their paper "The Characteristic Curvature of Ionic Surfactants." 

According to the association, the curvature of ionic surfactants can determine how much a surfactant hates or loves water. “Surfactants are extremely versatile but largely misunderstood molecules,” said Acosta in an association press release. “In our article, we described a simple method to characterize one of their properties–their relative hydrophilic/lipophilic nature.”

The research protocol developed by Acosta and his colleagues builds on more than 30 years of phase behavior studies of microemulsions and the concept of hydrophilic-lipophilic difference. The researchers report that the characteristic curvature will determine if a given surfactant is hydrophilic or lipophilic, but more importantly, can be used to predict important properties of surfactant O/W systems.

The researchers used this measurement to understand complex surfactant mixtures extracted from acid crude oils (naphthenates). They also used it to design hard surface cleaners and washing solutions for a range of substrates (oils) and cleaning conditions.

The award was sponsored by the SDA and the Surfactants and Detergents Division of the American Oil Chemists’ Society and was presented at AOCS’ 100th Annual Meeting and Expo in Orlando, Fla., USA. 

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