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Alkylphenol Ethoxylate Alternatives for Coatings Applications

SpecialChem / Nov 4, 2009

Since the first use of waterborne coatings, additives have been incorporated to enhance the properties of the final coating. These additives include co-solvents, pigments, preservatives, defoamers, rheology modifiers and others. One of the most important is the wetting agent/dispersing aid. A wetting agent is a surface-active material that lowers the interfacial tension at phase boundaries. Thus, the additive improves surface and pigment wetting. More often, the wetting agent is a non-ionic surfactant, and over the past 40 years the leading surfactants utilized for this purpose have been based on alkylphenol ethoxylates. For much of this time, these nonionic surfactants provided the optimum cost/performance properties desired by coatings formulators. In 2006, sales of APEOs in the coatings market consisted of 22,700 metric tons octylphenol and 17,700 metric tons nonylphenol ethoxylates. These amounts were used both directly in coatings formulations and for emulsion polymerization. These particular ethoxylates were preferred as wetting agents because they provided cost effectiveness while maintaining adaptable properties for many coating and non-coating applications.

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