• Innovation
  • science
  • sustainability
  • sustainable industry

EUCAROL® AGE - Florished natural surfactants

By Dario Fornara - Technology Manager Oleochemicals

Diversity and inclusion.

Surfactants are smart products that help to combine materials as water, oils, fats and solvents, that otherwise would not mix due to their incompatibility.
I like thinking of them as “inclusive” molecules that build bridges between diversity.  
Their inclusive transversality has been known and used since the very beginning of the chemical industry  and they have been applied in most consumer and industrial sectors, from personal and home care to oil and gas, from agriculture to coatings, from ceramics to textile, leather and paper.
All these industrial sectors have their own hystory and a well established culture but surfactants are always present as “multicultural” molecules  that cross all that different mindsets.

The surfactants abilities derive from their chemical structure: a non-polar lipophilic, oil-loving, moiety linked through a chemical bond to a polar hydrophilic, water-loving, moiety. That’s a great example of synergies induced by the diversity.   

once upon a time

During the last century some of the lipophilic moiety and most the hydrophilic moiety of surfactans were of petrochemical origin. At that time words like  sustainability, biodegradability and renewability were not included into the industrial vocabulary and imagining new surfactants corresponding to that language was considered visionary and almost impractical.

In the early ‘90s, at Lamberti some pioneers started to think and research in   more sustainable surfactants, completely derived from renewable raw materials. That was the moment in which we started our long journey towards green surfactants.

We were conscious that the task would not be an easy one: petrochemical raw materials offered a well established, cheap and diversified possibilities to build surfactant molecules. But we soon realized that Nature with its wonderful diversity offered us even more opportunities. We started to combine many different natural building blocks.
It has been a real challenging game, sometime frustrating, more often exciting, but at the end we developed our EUCAROL® AGE surfactant range.
In these molecules the lipophylic moiety derives from coconut or palm kernel whereas the hydrophylic moiety is obtained from wheat or corn and from natural fermentation derived citric acid (contained for example in lemons) or tartaric acids (contained for example in grapes).

It was exactly what we desired: a range of surfactants completely derived from renewable raw materials.

Not so surprisingly we discovered that EUCAROL® AGE’s were ready biodegradable, with very low acquatic toxicity and were extremely mild to skin and eyes. Perhaps more surprisingly we found that they also worked very well: foaming power, wetting power, detergency, emulsifying power, etc. were almost comparable to, and in some cases even better,  than traditional petrochemical surfactants.

a name to remind

That was the realization of something visionary and needed a name that could evoke the naturality, the mildness  and would  remind us the difficulties of our discovery journey but also the difficulties we would have  find to survive and penetrate in the overwhelming traditional surfactants market.

In ancient  greek Eucharis means Grace and Eucharis Grandiflora, also known as Amazon Lily, is a natural hybrid of flowering plant in the family of Amaryllidaceae. Eucharis grandiflora is a perennial growing from an elongated bulb, with deep green leaves and an umbel (cluster) of sweetly scented white flowers.
That was our symbol: from Eucharis, here it is our EUCAROL® AGE, so innovative even after 30 years.

And our journey goes on: now we are exploring the secrets of the olive; but that will be another story!