|SHAH, RAJ - Koehler Instrument Company, Inc|
|Ashby, Richard - Rick|
|LOO, AMANDA - Stony Brook University|
Submitted to: Inform
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/20/2021
Publication Date: 11/2/2021
Citation: Shah, R., Ashby, R.D., Loo, A. 2021. Performance enhancements in select industrial applications using surfactants, surfactant additives and thermostable enzymes. Inform. 32(10):18-23.
Interpretive Summary: Surface-active-agents, otherwise known as 'surfactants' are molecules that can change the surface tension of water and are known to be effective in detergent formulations. As such, these molecules have been included in laundry detergents since the 1930's. In addition to surfactants, many different enzymes have been applied in the laundering industry to improve the cleaning process. For example, the most common enzymes used in cleaning formulations include proteases, lipases, and amylases which can breakdown proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, respectively. It is expected that the enzyme market will reach $13-14 billion in 2025, with the detergent industry occupying as much as 25-30% of that market. Recently, efforts have focused on the utilization of new enzymes with improved thermal stability. These enzymes have been isolated from microorganisms that can live at elevated temperatures. These enzymes have shown improved cleaning potential especially in warm water washes thus improving the laundering process. New uses for surfactants have also been explored. Two relatively new applications for surfactants are in the use of warm mix asphalt (WMA) over hot mix asphalt (HMA) in paving applications. Surfactant additives were used to lower the WMA manufacturing temperature resulting in a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to HMA manufacturing. This application results in a lower environmental footprint than HMA and makes surfactant use in asphalt paving applications a beneficial endeavor. Lastly, surfactants have found increased use in enhancing oil recovery. Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) involves methods to improve the extraction of oil from matured reservoirs. Surfactants can change the conditions on the rock surface and also interact with oil molecules which enhances oil recovery as residual oil saturation of the reservoir decreases. As surfactants, surfactant additives and thermostable enzymes find new applications, significant improvements can be realized in both application- and environmentally-based processes.
Technical Abstract: Surfactants and thermostable enzymes are finding new uses in such areas as detergent formulations, asphalt processing and in oil recovery. Surfactants and enzymes are two of the most important molecules in detergent mixtures. This article describes the utilization of thermostable enzymes in laundry detergent formulations as well as the use of surfactants in asphalt applications and in enhanced oil recovery. Thermophilic bacteria occupy environmental niches where temperatures typically range from 40 to 120 degrees C. As such, the enzymes utilized by these bacteria have evolved to where they are stable at these temperatures. By incorporating proteases and lipases from thermophilic bacteria into laundry detergents, enhanced cleaning can be realized in warm-hot water washes. In addition, surfactants have also found new uses outside of the detergent industry. Recently surfactants were shown to have potential in asphalt paving applications. Surfactants lower the processing temperature in asphalt mixes (warm mix asphalt; WMA) which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption over the use of hot mix asphalt (HMA) thus demonstrating a lower environmental footprint than HMA and making WMA a beneficial alternative for large scale use. In addition, surfactants have also been applied to enhanced oil recovery (EOR). A principal purpose of using surfactants in EOR is to decrease the interfacial tension (IFT) between oil and water. Surfactants also can change the wettability, which is the change in oil-wetting state to water-wetting state when the surfactant is adsorbed on the rock surface and interacts with oil molecules. The surfactant can promote the water-wetting state, which enhances oil recovery as residual oil saturation of the reservoir decreases. As new uses for these molecules are discovered more efficient processes and better environmental impact will be realized.