Sulphur is found abundantly in our nature and far beyond; as minerals in the earth’s crust, oceans and even in meteorites. Sulphur is as well a part of acid rain as it is of the amino acids in the human body.
Canada is the worlds largest exporter of sulphur and China is its biggest importer. The price of sulphur is strongly influenced by the demand from China.
In the chemical industry sulphur as raw material is mainly applied in the form of sulphuric acid. Commercially, the price of suphuric acid thus determines for the larger part the cost prices of the derived sulphr products. World wide there is little leeway in the prices of the raw materials having sulphur as there source.
Of all surfactants world wide (16500tpa; USD 27 billion) 50% are natural and animal soaps. The next largest group of 15% consists of anionic tensides. Most of these contain sulphur. 8% finally are non-ionics and the rest is divided between cationic and amphoteric surfactants.
The detergent ndustry knows the following sulphur containing anionics:
Sulphonic acid LABSA
Linear alkyl benzene sulphonic acid; in water present as sulphonate ion:
LABSA is made from sulphuric acid and alkyl benzene. It is a dark colored liquid; corrosive dangerous good (UN2586). Application: for example in industrial cleaners. The tail usually holds 12 C-atoms; long enough to dissolve dirt in it. The negatively charged head dissolves in water. This way sulphonate molecules form micells dispersing dirt in water and discharging it.
Sulphonate ABS /LAS
Sodium salt of linear alkyl benzene sulphonate
ABS/LAS is the neutralised salt of above mentioned sulphonic acid. It is a white powder or granulate; harmless and thus applicable in for example washing powders. The sulphonate head, readily soluble in water, renders this solid hygroscopic. It requires skill to keep this product lump-free.
Sodium olefine sulphonate AOS
A mixture of linear C-C and C=C-chains (partly double bonds). Bacteria break down a linear chain much faster, especially in case double C=C-bonds are present. Where LABSA and ABS/LAS break down slowly, AOS is readily biologically degradable. In ecologic detergents AOS replaces LABSA and ABS/LAS.
Sodium xylene sulphonate, sodium toluene sulphonate
Here the long C-chains are absent. They don’t foam and don’t disperse dirt, but they can disperse other insoluble substances in water. In other words: these short chained sulphonates are not strong enough to carry dirt particles in water, but they can carry organic molecules. The strongly negative sulphonate head is very much soluble in water and insoluble organic molecules have affinity towards the benzene ring.
The Sirius Effect
After the introduction of AOS as environmentally friendly substitute of the hardly degradableABS/LAS, Sirius has taken up the challenge to render the prices of its sulphonates less dependant on sulphuric acid.
The cost price of sulphonic acid is determined for 2/3 by the price of sulphuric acid. The cost price of sulphonates, in turn, are 100% determined by the price of sulphonic acid. In addition, the large European manufacturers can maintain stable prices because there is little competition. The world, however, does not stop at the European limits, literally nor figuratively.
Not only can you instruct Sirius to locate exactly those sulphonates you want for your application; in our international network we can also utilize the 1/3 leeway in such a way that you pay the lowest possible price. Especially at times when the Chinese demand for sulphur and thus its price are lower.
In 2013 you choose the partner with the largest worldwide reach for your raw materials.
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