Alkyl Phenol Ethoxylate (APEO) Surfactant Dilemma: Environmental Friendly vs Colour Development

MahaChem Paint Color Development alternative for Alkyl Phenol Ethoxylate

Have you heard of Alkyl Phenol Ethoxylate and its harmful effects?

Alkyl Phenol Ethoxylate (APEO) surfactants are versatile and cost-effective. In addition, they can be used for wide range of applications. Hence, the surfactants have been used much historically.

However, these surfactants are not biodegradable and they are harmful to the environment and marine life.

Dilemma and Solutions

After knowing such aspects of APEO surfactants, many paint manufacturers have attempted to move away from APEO surfactants to APEO-free surfactants. However, such move may resulted in poor colour development as APEO plays a significant role in colour development.

However, our key supplier is able to supply the surfactant that can overcome such dilemma.

APEO vs Our APEO-Free Products

Here we compared three of our supplier’s surfactants, Ultranex NP 95, Alkamol L 408, and Alkamol L 603 with one of the market reference (a nonionic, APEO containing surfactant in paint applications).

Below are the product specifications.

Product Type HLB Active Content APEO Status
Market Reference Nonionic 12.6 1 APEO
Ultranex NP 95 Nonionic Nonylphenol Ethoxylate 13 No Data APEO
Alkamol L 408 Fatty Alcohol Ethoxylate and Propoxylate 6.1 No Data No
Alkamol L 408 L 603 Fatty Alcohol Ethoxylate and Propoxylate 9.3 No Data No

The above four surfactant samples were tested in a 70% PVC emulsion paint formulation. Below are the test results.

Raw Materials 70PVC-Reference 70PVC-NP 95 70PVC-L 408 70PVC-L 603
N.V.M. (%) 49.62 49.55 49.66 49.64
Stormer Viscosity (KU) 91.2 89 93.5 92.9
Foaming Test, Foam Height (ml)
Before Test = 38ml
After Test Test =
39.5 39.5 38.5 39
Dry Opacity @ 100um 83.9 83.8 84.3 83.5
Colour Development
Colanyl Black N131-TH Std Same as Std Same as Std Same as Std
Colanyl Violet RL LA-TH Std Stronger than Std Stronger than Std Stronger than Std
Colanyl Blue ARU-TH Std Same as Std Same as Std Same as Std
Colour Floating
Colanyl Black N131-TH NO NO NO NO
Colanyl Violet RL LA-TH NO NO NO NO
Colanyl Blue ARU-TH NO NO NO NO
APEO Test Comparison

The result showed that the three APEO-free surfactants have stronger colour development than the market reference when tested with Colanyl Violet RL RA-TH. Meanwhile, the colour development of our APEO-free and APEO surfactants were similar. In addition, the rest of the performance properties were comparable.

Are you interested in our solution? Please click below to see our surfactants for paint applications in details.

For the further inquiries, please contact us below.

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