23-Jun-2021 - Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker e.V. (GDCh)

Surfactants with regional vegetable oils for sustainable household and personal care products

Meyer-Galow Award for Business Chemistry Chemistry 2020 goes to Edgar Endlein

Dr. Edgar Endlein, Managing Director Research & Development, Werner & Mertz GmbH, Mainz, will receive the Meyer-Galow Award for Business Chemistry Chemistry 2020 on July 7, 2021. The prize of the foundation of the same name, which is part of the German Chemical Society (GDCh), is endowed with 10,000 euros. It is awarded for the market launch of an innovation in chemistry that is of particular value to society, especially in terms of sustainability. Edgar Endlein has been successfully involved in the transfer of surfactants based on regional European vegetable oils into sustainable household and personal care products and their market launch for years. The award ceremony takes place during a virtual ceremony and is chaired by Prof. Dr. Peter R. Schreiner, President of the GDCh.

Renewable materials and regenerative energy must increasingly be used for sustainable use of limited resources. Biodiversity must also be respected and preserved in order to preserve it for future generations. Detergent substances, so-called surfactants, in detergents, cleaning agents and cleansing personal care products should be biodegradable against this background, have the best possible (eco) toxicological profile, be plant-based and agricultural cultivation and logistics should have the lowest possible environmental impact. Renewable vegetable oils are therefore increasingly being used for the production of surfactants. Many of the vegetable oils used do not come from biodiverse sources, but are based on palm kernel oil or coconut oil.

The use of regional European vegetable oils would lead to greater diversity. However, such oil plants have a different composition than tropical ones: the carbon chain of the triglycerides of European oil seeds is generally longer and, depending on the type of plant, the fatty acids they contain are more or less unsaturated. Both have an influence on the chemical reactivity and the application properties. For this reason, additional research and development efforts are necessary in order to use such surfactants based on oil plants of the temperate climate zone in recipes for household and personal care products.

Dr. Edgar Endlein accepted. The sugar surfactants used, for example based on sunflower oil, are almost entirely made up of renewable carbon. Just like those based on rapeseed oil, they are also extremely mild and skin-friendly, can form stable foams and have strong emulsifying properties. Thanks to his innovative and future-oriented thinking and acting, the award winner has been able to successfully use surfactants based on regional European vegetable oils in detergents and cleaning agents of the Frosch brand in recent years. Its development and its market launch have a special value for society, especially under the aspect of sustainability.

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