The class of compounds known as Surfactants is a critical component in a large variety of consumer products, including cleaners, personal care products and paints, and in industrial processes such as oil and gas exploration. After use, however, surfactants often end up in our environment. Consequently, there is a need to enhance the sustainability of this $24B market through the design and commercialization of surfactants with increased efficiency, biodegradability, and little to no eco-toxicity.
Enter Dr. Gerrard Marangoni, a professor of chemistry at St. Francis Xavier University, and Dr. Bruce Grindley from Dalhousie University, who have developed a type of Gemini Surfactants, which are so-called because their molecular structure is double-ended. This makes them much more versatile and effective in smaller amounts than traditional surfactants.
In September 2010, GreenCentre in-licensed the technology from St. Francis Xavier and with a hands-on approach to commercialization, expanded the range of possible markets, ran industry-standard tests to better understand benefits, evaluated cost and manufacturability, and demonstrated their competitive cost attributes.
Testing showed that even at significantly lower amounts, these surfactants perform as well as existing surfactants at larger loadings, as well as having a wide range of properties. Smaller amount of surfactant means reduced production and shipping costs and a smaller environmental footprint. These greener surfactants also improve the toxicity profile of the processes they underpin and can be biodegradable.
In November of 2012, GreenCentre signed an exclusive license with RAN Chemicals to commercialize this technology. Based in India, RAN Chemicals, a sister concern of RSA Industries, manufactures specialty products for the textile, paper and powder paint industry and other industrial applications. RAN will formulate and manufacture the surfactants for several different market applications and sell them to other industries for use in a wide range of consumer products.