Surface active agents - Bio-based surfactants - Overview on bio-based surfactants

The aim of this document is to summarize the actual situation regarding many aspects regarding bio-based surfactants and their relation to any other surfactant regardless of its origin. It will describe existing raw material sources with regard to their current usage in surface active agents, their source identification and conformation, and the options for communication same.
It also includes the current work on surfactants regarding their performances, their sustainability, the LCA approaches and end of life options.

Tenside - Biobasierte Tenside - Übersicht über Biobasierte Tenside

Agents de surface - Agents tensioactifs biosourcés - Vue d’ensemble des agents tensioactifs biosourcés

Površinsko aktivne snovi - Površinsko aktivne snovi na biološki osnovi - Pregled površinsko aktivnih snovi na biološki osnovi

General Information

Status
Published
Current Stage
6060 - Definitive text made available (DAV) - Publishing
Due Date
02-Dec-2020
Completion Date
02-Dec-2020

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SLOVENSKI STANDARD
SIST-TP CEN/TR 17557:2021
01-marec-2021
Površinsko aktivne snovi - Površinsko aktivne snovi na biološki osnovi - Pregled
površinsko aktivnih snovi na biološki osnovi

Surface active agents - Bio-based surfactants - Overview on bio-based surfactants

Tenside - Biobasierte Tenside - Übersicht über Biobasierte Tenside
Agents de surface - Agents tensioactifs biosourcés - Vue d’ensemble des agents
tensioactifs biosourcés
Ta slovenski standard je istoveten z: CEN/TR 17557:2020
ICS:
71.100.40 Površinsko aktivna sredstva Surface active agents
SIST-TP CEN/TR 17557:2021 en

2003-01.Slovenski inštitut za standardizacijo. Razmnoževanje celote ali delov tega standarda ni dovoljeno.

---------------------- Page: 1 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN/TR 17557:2021
---------------------- Page: 2 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN/TR 17557:2021
CEN/TR 17557
TECHNICAL REPORT
RAPPORT TECHNIQUE
December 2020
TECHNISCHER BERICHT
ICS 13.020.55; 71.100.40
English Version
Surface active agents - Bio-based surfactants - Overview
on bio-based surfactants

Agents de surface - Agents tensioactifs biosourcés - Tenside - Biobasierte Tenside - Übersicht über

Vue d'ensemble des agents tensioactifs biosourcés Biobasierte Tenside

This Technical Report was approved by CEN on 9 November 2020. It has been drawn up by the Technical Committee CEN/TC

276.

CEN members are the national standards bodies of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia,

Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway,

Poland, Portugal, Republic of North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and

United Kingdom.
EUROPEAN COMMITTEE FOR STANDARDIZATION
COMITÉ EUROPÉEN DE NORMALISATION
EUROPÄISCHES KOMITEE FÜR NORMUNG
CEN-CENELEC Management Centre: Rue de la Science 23, B-1040 Brussels

© 2020 CEN All rights of exploitation in any form and by any means reserved Ref. No. CEN/TR 17557:2020 E

worldwide for CEN national Members.
---------------------- Page: 3 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN/TR 17557:2021
CEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)
Contents Page

European foreword ....................................................................................................................................................... 3

Introduction .................................................................................................................................................................... 4

1 Scope .................................................................................................................................................................... 6

2 Normative references .................................................................................................................................... 6

3 Terms and definitions ................................................................................................................................... 6

4 Market situation and penetration of bio-based surfactants in Europe ....................................... 7

5 Description of differences between bio-based and non-bio-based surfactant ......................... 8

5.1 Impact on biodegradability/aquatic toxicity ........................................................................................ 8

5.2 Performance ..................................................................................................................................................... 9

5.3 Life Cycle Assessment LCA and Product Environmental Footprint PEF [14] .......................... 10

5.4 Sustainability ................................................................................................................................................. 11

6 Characterization of sources ...................................................................................................................... 13

6.1 Specific methods ........................................................................................................................................... 13

6.2 Use and impact .............................................................................................................................................. 13

6.3 Round robin and Proficiency test ........................................................................................................... 15

6.4 Conclusions of this round robin .............................................................................................................. 17

7 Labelling and certification schemes ...................................................................................................... 18

Bibliography ................................................................................................................................................................. 19

---------------------- Page: 4 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN/TR 17557:2021
CEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)
European foreword

This document (CEN/TR 17557:2020) has been prepared by Technical Committee CEN/TC 276

“Surface Active Agent”, the secretariat of which is held by AFNOR.

Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject of

patent rights. CEN [and/or CENELEC] shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent

rights.
---------------------- Page: 5 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN/TR 17557:2021
CEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)
Introduction

Bio-based raw materials have been used for millennia in the manufacture of surfactants, e.g. the first

surfactant used by mankind was already completely bio-based – soap. With the advent of modern

surfactants in the early 20th Century, petrochemical-based raw materials also became of interest. They

offered the opportunity to tune the surfactant properties, in a broader sense, to their various

applications.

The last decades have seen the emergence of new bio-based raw materials for surfactants. Some of the

reasons for the increased interest lie in the bio-based products’ potential benefits in relation to the

depletion of fossil resources and climate change.

Acknowledging the need for common standards for bio-based products, the European Commission

issued mandate M/492 , resulting in a series of standards developed by CEN/TC 411, with a focus on

bio-based products other than food, feed and biomass for energy applications.

The standards of CEN/TC 411 “Bio-based products” provide a common basis on the following aspects:

— Common terminology ;
— Bio-based content determination;
— Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) ;
— Sustainability aspects
— Declaration tools.

It is important to understand what the term “bio-based product” covers and how it is being used. The

term “bio-based” means “derived wholly or partly from biomass”. It is essential to characterize the

amount of biomass contained in the product by, for instance, its (total) bio-based content or bio-based

carbon content.

The bio-based content of a product itself does not provide information on its environmental impact or

sustainability, which may be assessed through Life Cycle Inventory (LCI), LCA and sustainability

criteria. In addition, transparent and unambiguous communication within bio-based value chains is

facilitated by a harmonized framework for certification and declaration.

Breaking down the horizontal standards to bio-based products like bio-based surfactants, the European

Commission issued mandate M/491, resulting in standards developed by CEN/TC 276. This Technical

Specification has been developed with the aim to fulfil part of the Mandate to describe the technical

requirements of bio-based surfactants. The criteria for “bio-based surfactants” published in this

Technical Specification are complementary to the horizontal standards by CEN/TC 411.

1 A Mandate is a standardisation task embedded in European trade laws. M/492 Mandate is addressed to the European

Standardisation bodies, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI, for the development of horizontal European Standards for bio-based

products. M/491 mandate is addressed to the development of European standards for bio-solvents and bio-surfactants.

2 EN 16575
3 EN 16760
4 EN 16751
---------------------- Page: 6 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN/TR 17557:2021
CEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)

Surfactants are products which have the ability to reduce interfacial/surface tension, wet surfaces,

suspend materials or emulsify oils and fats. In Europe, thousands of producers, manufacturers and

nearly every inhabitant in Europe use surfactants every day in consumer or industrial applications. The

surfactant-producing industry is composed of mainly multinationals. Downstream users are found in

multinationals as well as SME's.

Surfactants may be produced from both fossil and renewable carbon feedstock (Ref. EN 16575:2014

nomenclature). The amount of crude oil used for surfactant production is, however, low with less than

1 % of the total world's crude oil consumption.

Finally, the approach for these Technical Reports/Specifications/Standards intends to strengthen and

harmonize the reputation of “bio-based surfactants” and the confidence of the customer in this product

group.
---------------------- Page: 7 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN/TR 17557:2021
CEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)
1 Scope

The aim of this document is to summarize the actual situation regarding many aspects regarding bio-

based surfactants and their relation to any other surfactant regardless of its origin. It will describe

existing raw material sources with regard to their current usage in surface active agents, their source

identification and conformation, and the options for communication same.

It also includes the current work on surfactants regarding their performances, their sustainability, the

LCA approaches and end of life options.
2 Normative references
There are no normative references in this document.
3 Terms and definitions

For the purposes of this document, the terms and definitions given in EN 16575 and the following apply.

ISO and IEC maintain terminological databases for use in standardization at the following addresses:

• IEC Electropedia: available at http://www.electropedia.org/
• ISO Online browsing platform: available at https://www.iso.org/obp
3.1
surfactant

organic substance, possessing surface activity which, dissolved in a liquid, particularly water, lowers the

surface or interfacial tension, by preferred adsorption at the liquid/vapour surface, or other interfaces

Note 1 to entry: “substance” as defined in REACH [14]
[SOURCE: ISO 862:1984, surface active agent 1.1 modified]
3.2
bio-based surfactant

surfactant wholly or partly derived from biomass (based on biogenic carbon) produced either by

chemical or biotechnological processing
[SOURCE: EN 16575:2014, bio-based surfactant 3.2]
3.3
bio-surfactant

surfactant wholly based on biomass (based on biogenic carbon) produced either by chemical or

biotechnological processing
[SOURCE: EN 16575:2014, bio-surfactant 3.3]
3.4
degradation

transformation of a compound into smaller component parts due to the physico-chemical environment.

This may occur due to abiotic processes such as oxidation and UV adsorption
[SOURCE: EN 16575:2014, degradation 3.4]
---------------------- Page: 8 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN/TR 17557:2021
CEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)
3.5
biodegradation

transformation of a compound into smaller component parts due to biological processes

[SOURCE: EN 16575:2014, biodegradation 3.5]
3.6
ultimate biodegradation

breakdown of organic matter by micro-organisms in the presence of oxygen to carbon dioxide, water

and mineral salts of any other elements present (mineralisation) or in absence of oxygen to carbon

dioxide, methane and mineral salts, and in both cases the production of new biomass

[SOURCE: EN 16575:2014, ultimate biodegradation 3.6]
4 Market situation and penetration of bio-based surfactants in Europe

Surfactants consist of at least one hydrophobic and one hydrophilic part. The source of these parts can

be either fossil-based or bio-based (renewable).

Traditionally, triglycerides from various oil plants are used as renewable sources for the hydrophobic

part. Suitable plants are e.g. oil palms, coconut palms, sunflowers, rapeseeds, or soy beans. The oils

taken from these plants are further chemically processed to get fatty acids by saponification or to get

fatty alcohols by methanolysis of the triglycerides and consecutive hydrogenation of the fatty

methylester.

If fossil resources are used for the hydrophobic part, there is a multitude of pathways to process either

crude oil or natural gas to build the hydrophobic building block. This includes e.g. Fischer-Tropsch

synthesis, oxo process, olefin oligomerisation, or Friedel-Crafts alkylation.

Generally, the carbon number of the hydrophobic part of a surfactant ranges from 4 to 24 carbon atoms,

whereas the majority has a carbon number between 10 and 15 carbon atoms.

Also the hydrophilic part may be derived from different sources either organic from renewable or fossil

sources or inorganic from minerals. Table 1 gives a non-exhaustive summary.
Table 1 — Hydrophilic components of surfactants and their origin
Hydrophilic source Type of material
Renewable Sugar, starch
Fossil EO, chloroacetic acid
Inorganic Sulfate, sulfonate, phosphate

The production of surfactants is carried out by multinational companies as well as SME’s. Figure 1

shows the use of bio-based and non bio-based surfactants in EU (+ Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland) in

2015. The split is close to be equal between them. Partitioning the bio-based part further into minority

bio-based surfactants (5 % < bio-based carbon content ≤ 50 %), majority bio-based surfactants

(50 % < bio-based carbon content < 95 %), and fully bio-based surfactants (bio-based carbon

content ≥ 95 %) show further details of the use of the different types of surfactants.

---------------------- Page: 9 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN/TR 17557:2021
CEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)
Key
FBB Fully Bio-Based (3 %)
MaBB Majority Bio-Based (30 %)
MiBB Minority Bio-Based (19 %)
NBB Non Bio-Based (48 %)

Figure 1 —Proportion of bio-based and non-bio-based surfactants used in the European Union +

Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland in 2015 (Source: CESIO 2016)
5 Description of differences between bio-based and non-bio-based surfactant
5.1 Impact on biodegradability/aquatic toxicity

Surface active agents are generally discharged via treated and untreated wastewater into the

environment. Consequently, ultimate biodegradability (mineralisation) is often required for such

substances. There are numerous test methods to measure biodegradability which may be used [14].

Common criteria for biodegradability is in most cases the ultimate biodegradation within 28 days and a

pass level of 60 % of either the theoretical consumption of oxygen or the theoretical evolution of carbon

dioxide.

If these ultimate degradation methods cannot be measured because of the physical characteristics of

the surfactant other methods [14] determining the elimination can be used. Please note that the high

initial test concentration may be inhibitory because of toxic effects of the test substance to

microorganisms.

In general, structural properties and molecular weight of any substance are decisive for their

biodegradation. This is independent from the origin of the used raw materials as is shown in Table 2

where some examples are given using the methods described in [14]. Completely fossil-based

surfactants like linear alkylbenzene sulfonates LAS are biodegradable and on the other hand majority

bio-based surfactants like cetyltrimethylammonium bromide CTAB are not biodegradable.

---------------------- Page: 10 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN/TR 17557:2021
CEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)

Table 2 — Examples of Biodegradability in regard of the Bio based raw material origin

Product group Bio-based raw materials Biodegradability
Alcohol ethoxylates mixed/no yes
Alcohol alkoxylates mixed/no yes/no
Alkylphenol ethoxylates no no
EO/PO blockpolymers no yes/no
Alcohol sulfates yes/no yes
Alcohol ether sulfates yes yes
Alkyl polyglucosides yes yes
Linear alkylbenzenesulfonates no yes
Quaternary ammonium compounds mixed no
(CTAB)
Quaternary ammonium compounds mixed yes
(Esterquats)
Betaines mixed yes
5.2 Performance

Performance and properties of any molecule, including surfactants, is determined by its chemical

structure and not by the origin of its raw materials.

Surfactants are used in such a wide variety of applications that it is not convenient to evaluate their

performance with respect to each application. Therefore, a practical approach is to define a set of

measurable surfactant properties which enable technical specialists to select appropriate surfactants

and guide their evaluation.
Surfactants have the ability to:
— reduce interfacial/surface tension;
— wet surfaces;
— foam or defoam;
— suspend materials; or to
— emulsify oils and fats, among others.

They make it possible to process, apply, clean or separate materials. Surfactants are widely used in

consumer and profe
...

SLOVENSKI STANDARD
kSIST-TP FprCEN/TR 17557:2020
01-september-2020
Površinsko aktivne snovi - Površinsko aktivne snovi na biološki osnovi - Pregled
površinsko aktivnih snovi na biološki osnovi

Surface active agents - Bio-based surfactants - Overview on bio-based surfactants

Tenside - Biobasierte Tenside - Übersicht über Biobasierte Tenside
Agents de surface - Agents tensioactifs biosourcés - Vue d’ensemble des agents
tensioactifs biosourcés
Ta slovenski standard je istoveten z: FprCEN/TR 17557:2020
ICS:
71.100.40 Površinsko aktivna sredstva Surface active agents
kSIST-TP FprCEN/TR 17557:2020 en

2003-01.Slovenski inštitut za standardizacijo. Razmnoževanje celote ali delov tega standarda ni dovoljeno.

---------------------- Page: 1 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN/TR 17557:2020
---------------------- Page: 2 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN/TR 17557:2020
FINAL DRAFT
TECHNICAL REPORT
FprCEN/TR 17557
RAPPORT TECHNIQUE
TECHNISCHER BERICHT
July 2020
ICS
English Version
Surface active agents - Bio-based surfactants - Overview
on bio-based surfactants
Tenside - Biobasierte Tenside - Übersicht über
Biobasierte Tenside

This draft Technical Report is submitted to CEN members for Vote. It has been drawn up by the Technical Committee CEN/TC

276.

CEN members are the national standards bodies of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia,

Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway,

Poland, Portugal, Republic of North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and

United Kingdom.

Recipients of this draft are invited to submit, with their comments, notification of any relevant patent rights of which they are

aware and to provide supporting documentation.

Warning : This document is not a Technical Report. It is distributed for review and comments. It is subject to change without

notice and shall not be referred to as a Technical Report.
EUROPEAN COMMITTEE FOR STANDARDIZATION
COMITÉ EUROPÉEN DE NORMALISATION
EUROPÄISCHES KOMITEE FÜR NORMUNG
CEN-CENELEC Management Centre: Rue de la Science 23, B-1040 Brussels

© 2020 CEN All rights of exploitation in any form and by any means reserved Ref. No. FprCEN/TR 17557:2020:2020 E

worldwide for CEN national Members.
---------------------- Page: 3 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN/TR 17557:2020
FprCEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)
Contents Page

European foreword ....................................................................................................................................................... 3

Introduction .................................................................................................................................................................... 4

1 Scope .................................................................................................................................................................... 6

2 Normative references .................................................................................................................................... 6

3 Terms and definitions ................................................................................................................................... 6

4 Market situation and penetration of bio-based surfactants in Europe ....................................... 7

5 Description of differences between bio-based and non-bio-based surfactant ......................... 8

5.1 Impact on biodegradability/aquatic toxicity ........................................................................................ 8

5.2 Performance ..................................................................................................................................................... 9

5.3 Life Cycle Assessment LCA and Product Environmental Footprint PEF [3] ............................ 10

5.4 Sustainability ................................................................................................................................................. 11

6 Characterization of sources ...................................................................................................................... 13

6.1 Specific methods ........................................................................................................................................... 13

6.2 Use and impact .............................................................................................................................................. 13

6.3 Round robin and Proficiency test ........................................................................................................... 15

6.4 Conclusions of this round robin .............................................................................................................. 17

7 Labelling and certification schemes ...................................................................................................... 18

Bibliography ................................................................................................................................................................. 19

---------------------- Page: 4 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN/TR 17557:2020
FprCEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)
European foreword

This document (FprCEN/TR 17557:2020) has been prepared by Technical Committee CEN/TC 276

“Surface Active Agent”, the secretariat of which is held by AFNOR.
This document is currently submitted to the Vote on TR.
---------------------- Page: 5 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN/TR 17557:2020
FprCEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)
Introduction

Bio-based raw materials have been used for millennia in the manufacture of surfactants, e.g. the first

surfactant used by mankind was already completely bio-based – soap. With the advent of modern

surfactants in the early 20th Century, petrochemical-based raw materials also became of interest. They

offered the opportunity to tune the surfactant properties, in a broader sense, to their various

applications.

The last decades have seen the emergence of new bio-based raw materials for surfactants. Some of the

reasons for the increased interest lie in the bio-based products’ potential benefits in relation to the

depletion of fossil resources and climate change.

Acknowledging the need for common standards for bio-based products, the European Commission

issued mandate M/492 , resulting in a series of standards developed by CEN/TC 411, with a focus on

bio-based products other than food, feed and biomass for energy applications.

The standards of CEN/TC 411 “Bio-based products” provide a common basis on the following aspects:

— Common terminology
— Bio-based content determination
— Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
— Sustainability aspects
— Declaration tools.

It is important to understand what the term “bio-based product” covers and how it is being used. The

term “bio-based” means “derived wholly or partly from biomass”. It is essential to characterize the

amount of biomass contained in the product by, for instance, its (total) bio-based content or bio-based

carbon content.

The bio-based content of a product itself does not provide information on its environmental impact or

sustainability, which may be assessed through Life Cycle Inventory (LCI), LCA and sustainability

criteria. In addition, transparent and unambiguous communication within bio-based value chains is

facilitated by a harmonized framework for certification and declaration.

Breaking down the horizontal standards to bio-based products like bio-based surfactants, the European

Commission issued mandate M/491, resulting in standards developed by CEN/TC 276. This Technical

Specification has been developed with the aim to fulfil part of the Mandate to describe the technical

requirements of bio-based surfactants. The criteria for “bio-based surfactants” published in this

Technical Specification are complementary to the horizontal standards by CEN/TC 411.

Surfactants are products which have the ability to reduce interfacial/surface tension, wet surfaces,

suspend materials or emulsify oils and fats. In Europe, thousands of producers, manufacturers and

1 A Mandate is a standardisation task embedded in European trade laws. M/492 Mandate is addressed to the European

Standardisation bodies, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI, for the development of horizontal European Standards for bio-based products.

M/491 mandate is addressed to the development of European standards for bio-solvents and bio-surfactants.

2 EN 16575
3 EN 16760
4 EN 16751
---------------------- Page: 6 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN/TR 17557:2020
FprCEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)

nearly every inhabitant in Europe use surfactants every day in consumer or industrial applications. The

surfactant-producing industry is composed of mainly multinationals. Downstream users are found in

multinationals as well as SME's.

Surfactants may be produced from both fossil and renewable carbon feedstock (Ref. EN 16575:2014

nomenclature). The amount of crude oil used for surfactant production is, however, low with less than

1 % of the total world's crude oil consumption.

Finally, the approach for these Technical Reports/Specifications/Standards intends to strengthen and

harmonize the reputation of “bio-based surfactants” and the confidence of the customer in this product

group.
---------------------- Page: 7 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN/TR 17557:2020
FprCEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)
1 Scope

The aim of this document is to summarize the actual situation regarding many aspects regarding bio-

based surfactants and their relation to any other surfactant regardless of its origin. It will describe

existing raw material sources with regard to their current usage in surface active agents, their source

identification and conformation, and the options for communication same.

It also includes the current work on surfactants regarding their performances, their sustainability, the

LCA approaches and end of life options.
2 Normative references
There are no normative references in this document.
3 Terms and definitions

For the purposes of this document, the terms and definitions given in EN 16575 and the following apply.

ISO and IEC maintain terminological databases for use in standardization at the following addresses:

• IEC Electropedia: available at http://www.electropedia.org/
• ISO Online browsing platform: available at http://www.iso.org/obp
3.1
surfactant

organic substance, possessing surface activity which, dissolved in a liquid, particularly water, lowers the

surface or interfacial tension, by preferred adsorption at the liquid/vapour surface, or other interfaces

Note 1 to entry: “substance” as defined in REACH [2]
[SOURCE: ISO 862:1984, surface active agent 1.1 modified]
3.2
bio-based surfactant

surfactant wholly or partly derived from biomass (based on biogenic carbon) produced either by

chemical or biotechnological processing
[SOURCE: EN 16575:2019, bio-based surfactant 3.2]
3.3
bio surfactant

surfactant wholly based on biomass (based on biogenic carbon) produced either by chemical or

biotechnological processing
[SOURCE: EN 16575:2019, bio-surfactant 3.3]
3.4
degradation

transformation of a compound into smaller component parts due to the physico-chemical environment.

This may occur due to abiotic processes such as oxidation and UV adsorption
[SOURCE: EN 16575:2019, degradation 3.4]
---------------------- Page: 8 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN/TR 17557:2020
FprCEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)
3.5
biodegradation

transformation of a compound into smaller component parts due to biological processes,

[SOURCE: EN 16575:2019, biodegradation 3.5]
3.6
ultimate biodegradation

breakdown of organic matter by micro-organisms in the presence of oxygen to carbon dioxide, water

and mineral salts of any other elements present (mineralisation) or in absence of oxygen to carbon

dioxide, methane and mineral salts, and in both cases the production of new biomass

[SOURCE: EN 16575:2019, ultimate biodegradation 3.6]
4 Market situation and penetration of bio-based surfactants in Europe

Surfactants consist of at least one hydrophobic and one hydrophilic part. The source of these parts can

be either fossil-based or bio-based (renewable).

Traditionally, triglycerides from various oil plants are used as renewable sources for the hydrophobic

part. Suitable plants are e.g. oil palms, coconut palms, sunflowers, rapeseeds, or soy beans. The oils

taken from these plants are further chemically processed to get fatty acids by saponification or to get

fatty alcohols by methanolysis of the triglycerides and consecutive hydrogenation of the fatty

methylester.

If fossil resources are used for the hydrophobic part, there is a multitude of pathways to process either

crude oil or natural gas to build the hydrophobic building block. This includes e.g. Fischer-Tropsch

synthesis, oxo process, olefin oligomerisation, or Friedel-Crafts alkylation.

Generally, the carbon number of the hydrophobic part of a surfactant ranges from 4 to 24 carbon atoms,

whereas the majority has a carbon number between 10 and 15 carbon atoms.

Also the hydrophilic part may be derived from different sources either organic from renewable or fossil

sources or inorganic from minerals. Table 1 gives a non-exhaustive summary.
Table 1 — Hydrophilic components of surfactants and their origin
Hydrophilic source Type of material
Renewable Sugar, starch
Fossil EO, chloroacetic acid
Inorganic Sulfate, sulfonate, phosphate

The production of surfactants is carried out by multinational companies as well as SME’s. Figure 1

shows the use of bio-based and non bio-based surfactants in EU (+ Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland) in

2015. The split is close to be equal between them. Partitioning the bio-based part further into minority

bio-based surfactants (5 % < bio-based carbon content ≤ 50 %), majority bio-based surfactants

(50 % < bio-based carbon content < 95 %), and fully bio-based surfactants (bio-based carbon

content ≥ 95 %) show further details of the use of the different types of surfactants.

---------------------- Page: 9 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN/TR 17557:2020
FprCEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)
Key
FBB Fully Bio-Based (3 %)
MaBB Majority Bio-Based (30 %)
MiBB Minority Bio-Based (19 %)
NBB Non Bio-Based (48 %)

Figure 1 —Proportion of bio-based and non-bio-based surfactants used in the European Union +

Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland in 2015 (Source: CESIO 2016)
5 Description of differences between bio-based and non-bio-based surfactant
5.1 Impact on biodegradability/aquatic toxicity

Surface active agents are generally discharged via treated and untreated wastewater into the

environment. Consequently, ultimate biodegradability (mineralisation) is often required for such

substances. There are numerous test methods to measure biodegradability which may be used [2].

Common criteria for biodegradability is in most cases the ultimate biodegradation within 28 days and a

pass level of 60 % of either the theoretical consumption of oxygen or the theoretical evolution of carbon

dioxide.

If these ultimate degradation methods cannot be measured because of the physical characteristics of

the surfactant other methods [3] determining the elimination can be used. Please note that the high

initial test concentration may be inhibitory because of toxic effects of the test substance to

microorganisms.

In general, structural properties and molecular weight of any substance are decisive for their

biodegradation. This is independent from the origin of the used raw materials as is shown in Table 2

where some examples are given using the methods described in [2] or [3]. Completely fossil-based

surfactants like linear alkylbenzene sulfonates LAS are biodegradable and on the other hand majority

bio-based surfactants like cetyltrimethylammonium bromide CTAB are not biodegradable.

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kSIST-TP FprCEN/TR 17557:2020
FprCEN/TR 17557:2020 (E)

Table 2 — ”Examples of Biodegradability in regard of the Bio based raw material origin”

Product group Bio-based raw materials Biodegradability
Alcohol ethoxylates mixed/no yes
Alcohol alkoxylates mixed/no yes/no
Alkylphenol ethoxylates no no
EO/PO blockpolymers no yes/no
Alcohol sulfates yes/no yes
Alcohol ether sulfates yes yes
Alkyl polyglucosides yes yes
Linear alkylbenzenesulfonates no yes
Quaternary ammonium compounds mixed no
(CTAB)
Quaternary ammonium compounds mixed yes
(Esterquats)
Betaines mixed yes
5.2 Performance

Performance and properties of any molecule, including surfactants, is determined by its chemical

structure and not by the origin of its raw materials.

Surfactants are used in such a wide variety of applications that it is not convenient to evaluate their

performance with respect to each application. Therefore, a practical approach is to define a set of

measurable surfactant properties which enable technical specialists to select appropriate surfactants

and guide their evaluation.
Surfactants have the ability to
— reduce interfacial/surface tension,
— wet surfaces,
— foam or defoam,
— suspend materials, or to
— emulsify oils and fats, among others.

They make it possible to process, apply, clean or separate materials. Surfactants are widely used in

consumer and professional products and for industrial applications. Surfactants ar

...

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