Fatty Alcohol Ethoxylate is a clear liquid substance that depends on the components of fatty alcohol from the oleochemical chain and ethylene oxide from the petrochemical chain. They are non-ionic surfactants which contain both hydrophobic tail portion (fatty alcohol part) and hydrophilic polar head groups (ethoxy chain part), and thus tend to dissolve in both aqueous and oil phase which reduce the surface tension of liquids.
Ethoxylation is an industrial process in which ethylene oxide is added to alcohols and phenols to give surfactants. Alcohol ethoxylates are produced by reacting alcohol with oxirane (ethene oxide). The alcohol could be made from cracked petroleum (via ethane, propane and carbon monoxide) or from vegetable or animal oil and fats.
It is used as a raw material to manufacture detergent because it is a class of non-ionic surfactants and are surface active agents which do not dissociate into ions in aqueous solutions, as compared to anionic and cationic surfactants. Non-ionic surfactants also show excellent solvency, low foam properties and chemical stability. Other than that, it is used to manufacture dish cleaners, because it has both lipophilic and hydrophilic nature. It is also used as a wetting agent to reduce the surface tension and also increase the wetting ability of liquid.
It can be used in conjunction with anionic, cationic or other non-ionic surfactants as emulsifiers and wetting agents for herbicides and pesticide.
It is used as an additive to manufacture lubrication oil. It is also used as a raw material to manufacture viscosity improvers and pour point depressants. In the textile industry, fatty alcohol ethoxylates are used in the textile market sectors for emulsification and solubilizing purposes.