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Detergents are cleaning agents which play a very important role in our daily life. They not only can help us to stay care, health for our homes and wealth, but also can make our environment more pleasant and active. According to the different functions and usages, detergent can be classified into various types which are laundry, household, personal and dishwashing cleaning products. Besides that, these different types of detergents can also be further classified into powder, cake, liquid and others depending on their texture form.
Among the various types of detergents, the formulation and production of solid and liquid laundry detergents are going to be described by giving examples. Laundry detergent is a type of detergent used to clean and rinse the laundry things. Different kind of detergents will be formulated from different substances in order to meet the requirement of cleaning and the manufacturing process will also be slightly different. Generally, laundry detergents are formulated from six groups of matters which include surfactants, builders, bleaching agents, enzymes, fillers and other minor additives.
An example of solid laundry detergent that I would like to illustrate is a solid laundry detergent containing light density silicate salt. It was invented by Nigel Patrick Somerville Roberts in 2009. This detergent is formulated from light density silicate salt, detersive surfactant, carbonate salt, sulphate salt, phosphate builder, zeolite builder, enzymes and other additives. These formulations are going to be described in detail.
This type of detergent contains light density silicate salt that is usually a sodium silicate salt. This composition is considered to be the most important in this detergent because this is a detergent which specially contains light density silicate salt. The light density silicate salt is 1 wt% - 40 wt% and has a bulk density of less than 200 g/l or 150 g/l. Sometimes, the density is even less than 100 g/l. Besides that, it has a weight average particle size of less than 300 µm, 200 µm or 100 µm. The light density silicate salt can be got from a flash-drying process. It has been found that adding the light density silicate salt into other ingredients can make the detergent to be produced through conventional set processes and even a set of single mixer processes. Besides that, light density silicate salt or sodium silicate salt added acts as a corrosion inhibitor, so it can prevent materials from rusting.
Furthermore, the ingredient of the detergent also consists of 5wt% - 60 wt% detersive surfactant. Surfactant is an organic compound which can be obtained through a chemical reaction involving fats or oil as raw materials. Since surfactant has emulsifying, wetting and dispersing properties, it is able to remove dirt from clothes and keep the soil suspending on the water, so that soil will not stick on the clothes and can be easily rinsed away. There are different types of surfactants which include anionic, cationic, non-ionic, amphoteric and zwitterionic detersive surfactants. Among these detersive surfactants, anionic detersive surfactant is preferred to be used as surfactant in this detergent. Alkoxylated alcohol sulphate anionis detersive surfactants such as substituted or unsubstituted, linear or branched ethoxylated C12-18 alcohol sulphates, linear unsubstituted C10-13 alkyl benzene sulphonates, alkyl sulphates, alkyl sulphonates, alkyl phosphates, alkyl phosphonates and alkyl carboxylates are suitable to be anionic detersive surfactants. Besides anionic detersive surfactant, cationic detersive surfactants such as mono-C6-18 alkyl mono-hydroxyethyl di-methyl quaternary ammonium chlorides, mono-C8-10 alkyl mono-hydroxyethyl di-methyl quaternary ammonium chloride, mono-C10 alkyl mono-hydroxyethyl di-methyl quaternary ammonium chloride and mono-C10-12 alkyl mono-hydroxyethyl di-methyl quaternary ammonium chloride, and non-ionic detersive surfactants such as C12-18 alkyl ethoxylated alcohols and C8-18 alkyl alkoxylated alcohols may also be added into the solid laundry detergent. Although surfactant is not effective in hard water, its detergent property is also incomplete in soft water.
In addition, one of the ingredients included in the solid laundry detergent is builders. Builders are used to remove magnesium and calcium ions which are present in the hard water or soils, so that the quantity of surfactant added to execute the detersive action can be reduced. Some builders can also prevent magnesium and calcium salts from precipitating on the clothes. In this kind of solid laundry detergent, 0 wt% to 30 wt% phosphates and 0 wt% to 5 wt% zeolite builders are used. If the component of the detergent which has a very good environmental profile is desired, then phosphate builders are preferred. On the other hand, if the composition of the detergent is desired to be highly water soluble and transparent wash liquor, then zeolite builders are favoured. Therefore, depending on different requirement, different type of builders is needed. Phosphate builders include sodium tripolyphosphate whereas zeolite builders consist of zeolite A, zeolite P, zeolite X and zeolite MAP
Moreover, the detergent also comprises from 0 wt% - 50wt% of carbonate salts to maintain the alkalinity. Sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate can be used, but thereof, sodium carbonate is more preferred. In order to enabling the adjustment of the active matter in the laundry detergent to the amount used, 0 wt% - 40 wt% of sulphate salt such as sodium sulphate in powdered form is also added. The sodium sulphate which is a filler product can also be used to dilute powdered detergent.
Solid laundry detergent also formulated from bleaching agent which is used to remove immovable soil and guarantee sanitation by killing bacteria through an oxidation reaction. It is usually carried out by peroxygen generator such as sodium percarbonate salt is more preferred. Besides that, bleach activator such as tetraacetyl ethylene diamine, imide bleach activator such as N-nonanoyl-N-methyl acetamide, oxybenzene sulphonate bleach activator such as nonanoyl oxybenzene sulphonate, caprolactam bleach activator, polymeric carboxylates and preformed peracids may also be added in order to activate the bleaching agents.
Enzymes such as amylases, cellulases, lipases, carbohydrases, proteases, laccases, oxidases, peroxidases, pectate lyases and mannanases are also added into the detergent to catalyse the degradation of soils and then help the elimination. Some minor additives like suds suppressing systems, fluorescent whitening agents, photobleach, fabric-softening agents, flocculants, dye transfer inhibitors, fabric integrity components, soil dispersants and soil anti-redeposition aids, anti-redeposition components, perfume, dyes, sulphamic acid and citric acids are also added in small quantities to effectively improve the specific washing properties.
In order to produce solid laundry detergent, there are three different ways which are dry mixing or blender process, agglomeration and spray drying process. Among these three methods, dry mixing and agglomeration are more common. For dry mixing or blender process which is a manufacturing method used to blend dry raw materials, all ingredients are firstly loaded into either ribbon blender or tumbling blender. Ribbon blender is cylinder-shaped and blades are fitted inside the blender to scratch and blend ingredients together, whereas tumbling blender is a box with rectangular- shaped and it is twisted and shaked from outside by a machine. When all the ingredients of detergents have been blended uniformly in the blender, a gateway at the bottom of the machine will be opened and the powdered mixture will then released through a conveyor belt or other channelling device to a place where the detergents can be packed into boxes or cartons and then transported to the market.
For the second method, agglomeration process, initially, dry compositions which have been placed into the Shuggi agglomerator are mixed and sheared equally into fine particles by sharp and rolling blades in the agglomerator. Then, liquid compositions are sprayed onto the dry mixture through nozzles which are on the agglomerator's wall after the dry compositions have been mixed uniformly in the agglomerator. A liquid mixture formed is hot and viscous because exothermic reaction occurs when blending process continues. Then, the liquid flows out from the agglomerator and accumulates on a drying belt. Drying belt contains a hot air blower which makes the liquid easier to be crushed. Finally, it is crushed and pushed through sizing screen to prevent unmixed large particles from being formed before detergents are transported to the market. High density powdered detergents are produced.
Spray drying process is also known as slurry method. Firstly, all dry and liquid ingredients are mixed together to form a slurry in a tank which is called crutcher. The heated slurry is pumped and blown into a tower through nozzles in order to form small droplets. High pressure is applied in the tower to force the droplets from the top of the spray tower to the bottom. Once the slurry dries, hollow granules formed will be collected in the bottom of the tower and then screened to get a standard size. After the beads of the dry detergents are cooled, heat sensitive materials such as enzyme, bleaching agent and perfume are added and finally they are collected for packaging. Since the technology nowadays is more advanced compared to last time, air inside the granules can be effectively reduced and higher density solid detergent can be formed through this method.
Another type of detergent that I am going to describe is liquid laundry detergent. This detergent will be illustrated by an example which is known as liquid laundry detergent containing cationic hydroxyethyl cellulose polymer. It is invented by Peter Gerard Gray, Karel Jozef Maria Depoot, Luc Marie Willy, Lievens, Falke Elisabeth Vanneste and Serge Omer Alfons Jean Thoof in 2008. This detergent which is good for washing delicate fabrics is formulated from cationic hydroxyethyl cellulose polymer, surfactant, fatty acid, enzyme which is free of cellulytic activity, builder and other additives.
This liquid laundry detergent contains about 0.05%-0.4%, by weight of the composition, of cationic hydroxyethyl cellulose polymer. Besides that, the cationic hydroxyethyl cellulose polymer has a more preferably 0.01 - 0.10 degree of substitution of cationic charge, as well as, molecular weight of about 200000 - 800000. The cationic hydroxyethyl cellulose has repeating substituted anhydroglucose units and the anhydroglucose units may be substituted by alkyl groups. Moreover, to avoid lumps formation when adding water into it at ambient temperature, the cationic hydroxyethyl cellulose polymer can be cross-linked with dialdehyde like glyoxyl. The purpose of adding cationic hydroxyethyl cellulose polymer is actually to provide fabric care advantages to laundered textiles when it is combined with surfactant and fatty acid.
Furthermore, surfactant is one of the ingredients added into the liquid laundry detergent. More preferably, the detergent contains 7% -15%, by weight of the compositions, of surfactant. The surfactant must comprise at least one anionic surfactant such as alkyl ethoxylate sulphate and linear straight chain alkyl benzene sulphonates, and at least one non-ionic surfactant such as polyhydroxy fatty acid amides. The suitable anionic surfactants include the water-soluble salts, especially alkali metal and ammonium salts of organic sulphuric reaction products.
The liquid laundry detergent also consists of 2% - 15%, 2% -10% or 2.5% - 7%, by weight of the composition, of fatty acid. The fatty acid used in the detergent is saturated and unsaturated with 8 - 24 or 12 - 18 carbon atoms. Besides that, the detergent is significantly free of optical brighter. This means that the amount of optical brighter must not be detectable, so the detergent must contains less 0.0001% of optical brighter. The optical brighter can be used to improve the appearance of colour of fabrics and make the fabric look cleaner, but it will cause allergic, so it is not added into the detergent.
Moreover, enzymes which are substantially free of cellulytic activity are also included in the liquid laundry detergent at the sufficient amount, such as protease, amylase, lipase and others. The concentration of enzymes containing cellulytic activity must be less than 0.0001% or even in the undetectable quantity. This is because there may be cellulase present in those enzymes and it will hydrolyze the cationic hydroxyethyl cellulose polymer that provides fabric care benefits. Thus, indirectly, the benefits of this detergent will be damaged. Nevertheless, if this type of enzyme is required, then sufficient amount of cellulase inhibitor including enzyme stabilizing system can be added to stop the action of cellulase towards the cationic hydroxyethyl cellulose polymer.
The compositions of the detergent may also consist of 0.1% - 80%, by weight of the composition, of builder. The builders comprise either phosphate salt or organic and inorganic non-phosphorus builders. Organic non-phosphorus builders which are water soluble include carboxylate, polycarboxylate, polyhydroxy sulphonates, different alkali metals, ammonium and substituted ammonium polyacetates. While inorganic non-phosphorus builders consist of aluminosilicates, borates, silicates and carbonates.
In addition, the liquid laundry detergent also contain extra compositions such as opacifying agents, soil release polymers, suds suppressors, chelants, performance boosting polymers, dye transfer inhibiting polymers, stabilizers, viscosity modifiers, preservatives, structurants, citric acid, as well as benefit agent containing delivery particles. These additional ingredients are used to enhance the properties of the detergent.
To manufacture the liquid laundry detergents, the very first step is to choose right raw materials by depending on the factors, such as cost, human and environmental safety, as well as the specific properties that we desired in the final product. In this process, continuous blending is required. Dry ingredients are mixed with liquid ingredients which include water solution and solubilizers. Solubilizers are added to ensure stability and evenness of the final product. Then, they are blended evenly to form a mixture by using static or in-line mixers. Besides that, in order to produce a more concentrated liquid laundry detergent, a new high energy mixing process combined with stabilizing agents can used.