Science Behind Technology

surfactantsSurfactants are extensively used in household, personal care, and industrial/institutional applications. Desmet Ballestra technologies allow for their production via natural or petrochemical sources, depending upon their applications and expected performances, always granting high-quality standards coupled with optimized energy demand.

A wide family of Anionic surfactants can be produced with the Desmet Ballestra Film Sulphonation/Sulphation process, based on the proprietary Multitube Falling Film Reactor (MTFR) operating with gaseous SO3.

The MTFR is conceived to grant very high heat transfer; low pressure drop, resulting in reduced energy consumption; once through design (no need of external recycling loop; easy scale-up of the reactor as all distribution heads and reaction tubes are identical regardless of reactor size.

Moreover, a full set of devices for surfactant upgrading, downstream the Sulphonation process, is available, ranging from the unique Vacuum Neutralization and Ultra-low Dioxane removal system to the DRYEX process for pure dry surfactant production.

Nonionic surfactants can be synthesized in a wide variety of molecular structures thanks to the Alkoxylation process, based on the proprietary Enhanced Loop Reactor (ELR), capable of coupling the highest operational safety level with the most advanced control of the reaction parameters.

The ELR shows its versatility when producing ethoxylates characterized by a growth ratio of up to 70, thanks to the double-effect gas-liquid contact system. This system represents a step change in process intensification, as reaction occurring in both liquid and gaseous phases shortens batch time-length. Moreover, the reactor is designed and featured as “intrinsically safe”, ensuring its mechanical integrity even in the case of an accidentally primed explosion.

Cationic and amphoteric surfactants are characterized by a wide typology of molecules and functional groups. The production technology for these surfactants is typically based on batch “multipurpose” plants in which the several reactions involved in the synthesis of both cationics and amphoterics can be conveniently accomplished, limiting the need for huge investments in production hardware. Operational flexibility and full control of the batch sequences are the winning characteristics of the “multipurpose” batch plant.