Fatty methyl ester sulfonate - A feasible cost alternative to petrochemical anionic surfactants

Posted On Feb, 13, 2017

Fatty methyl ester sulfonate (FMES) is the older kind of surfactant known from 1930s, and the production and application study was started in early 50s to the late 80s and early 90s. Fatty Methyl ester sulfonate is formulated from the starting material of vegetable oils or palm oil i.e. transesterification of oil to form fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) and subsequent sulfonation to form methyl ester sulfonate. The U.S., Italy, and Japan are the dominant producers and have mastered the production techniques of fatty methyl ester sulfonates.

FMES is used for various purposes such as bar soaps, detergent powders, and lime soap dispersants liquid and hard surface cleaners and mainly suitable for concentrated enzyme detergent manufacture. MES is a renewable raw material, and has good environmental compatibility, hard water resistance, high biodegradability, low irritation, and good detergency.

FMES is especially suitable for concentrated enzyme detergent production. It can be used in ore flotation agents, emulsifiers, leather processing aids, fiber spinning finishing agent, mold release agent with rubber, paint and oil dispersant, wetting agent in agricultural chemicals, textile auxiliaries.

Fatty methyl ester sulfonate offers a feasible cost alternative to the linear alkyl benzene sulfonates (LAS) and petroleum based surfactants which are currently used by detergent manufacturers, thereby increasing its market size over the upcoming years.

LAS produces complex in water when it combines with calcium and magnesium ions, thus loses washing effect. Therefore, MES is more superior in providing higher detergency performance with hard water resistance, and making it almost ideal surfactant in the phosphorus free detergent category.

FMES is better quality calcium soap dispersant and has good dispersibility. Calcium soap dispersion of MES is four times that of LAS. Detergency ratio of MES is 1.7 times that of LAS, and very much suitable without phosphorus in the powders, as phosphorus free detergent can act as strong spot & stain removal agent. LAS can significantly lower the activity rate of enzymes, while the MES can sustain the performance of detergent powders. This can be attributed to the strong foaming feature of MES, especially in hard water.

There is gradual improvement in the standard of living and lifestyles change, as consumers tend to focus more on their daily beauty routines. Therefore, multifunctional products are growing in popularity as they provide several benefits including cleansing, anti-aging, anti-oxidant, and moisturization.

For example, consumers expect their skin care and hair care products to be more natural and avoid strong synthetic chemicals, as they are aware about the harmful effects of toxic ingredients. This trend is leading to the heavy consumption of various bio-based shampoos, soaps and shower gel resulting in the growth of MES in personal care.

High level of R&D for product innovation and technological advancements in the detergent production by industry participants such as Lion Corporation, Chemithon, and Stepan Company are key beneficial factors for fatty methyl ester sulfonate market. Companies such as Sun Products have developed innovative detergent types such as unscented and antibacterial dishwashers.

Growing emphasis on eco-friendly manufacturing processes, sustainable production & raw material procurement, among the FMES producers offers ample opportunities for the new entrants. MES manufacturers are shifting towards greener manufacturing technologies by using healthy raw material resources such as palm oil and other vegetable oils. In addition, favorable support from government regulatory bodies regarding the bio-based production process and raw material procurement act as the major support system for the industry participants.

  In-depth report on global fatty methyl ester sulfonate (FMES) market by Grand View Research:

http://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/fatty-methyl-ester-sulfonate

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