After almost 4 years since Stepan and Elevance signed a joint development agreement in 2010, the companies announced the launch of the first surfactant product, which is now commercially available worldwide from Stepan Company, with sales to be rolled in into different regions throughout 2014.
STEPOSOL® MET-10U, a non-ionic surfactant, is targeted to displace solvents such as N-methyl pyrrolidone (NMP), methylene chloride, d-Limonene, glycol ethers, benzyl alcohol, among others. STEPOSOL® MET-10U is a dimethyl amide of an unsaturated C10 methyl ester (nomenclature: N,N-dimethyl 9-decenamide) with characteristics of low HLB (hydrophilic-lipophilic balance) surfactant and a powerful solvent.
For several years, there has been a need within the chemical industry to develop “greener solvents” especially solvents that have low or no VOC (volatile organic compound), non-halogenated/non toxic, and if possible, biodegradable or recyclable. Bio-based solvent is an added bonus if it has lower carbon footprint as well as possessing the qualities already mentioned above. D-Limonene is a bio-based solvent but it is said to still have concerns when it comes to low/no VOC requirement as well as supply issues at times.
Other green solvents such as lactates (e.g. ethyl lactate) still have performance issues in some applications, which makes it unable to displace a wider range of petro-based solvents, while some of the solvents made from soy as well as dibasic esters are reportedly not as competitive in terms of pricing, availability, and in some cases, also in performance.
STEPOSOL® MET-10U is said to be very effective in a wide variety of hard surface cleaning applications and even in cleaning paint brushes. It can replace several general-purpose solvents while offering high-performance properties. You can watch some of the applications highlights below.
Currently, there are about 19 different formulations offered for the use of STEPOSOL® MET-10U. According to Stepan, the surfactant can even be formulated in aqueous solutions in as much as 5% usage level in certain applications, and still be very competitive with some 100% solvent systems. This enables formulators to be competitive in pricing in terms of cost-performance balance.
Specific product attributes for the surfactant include a Kauri-butanol value greater than 1000, which enables it to be very effective in terms of cleaning power; boiling point of 297°C, that results in its classification as a non-VOC in several geographies and markets (low VOCs in other markets); and a biorenewable carbon content of 75%, which adds to the surfactant’s sustainability.
STEPOSOL® MET-10U uses Elevance’s Inherent™ renewable building blocks, specifically its specialty C10 methyl ester, a 10-carbon chain ester with terminal olefin functionality produced using renewable oil feedstock and via Elevance’s metathesis technology. Unlike C10 methyl ester produced via traditional oleochemical manufacture, Elevance’s C10 methyl ester reportedly enables the production of differentiated and novel chemical materials and properties because of its unique unsaturated structure. Elevance currently produces its Inherent™ renewable building blocks at its 180 ktpa biorefinery in Gresik, Indonesia.