CONSTANCE, Germany – Market research firm Ceresana has again analyzed the global market for surfactants and projects growth of approximately 2.5 percent per year going forward. Surfactants facilitate the removal of dirt and help to finely mix water and oil. These surface-active chemical substances are used in every household but also serve numerous industrial applications. "In 2014, a worldwide turnover of $33.2 billion was achieved with surfactants," said Oliver Kutsch, Manager of the market research institute Ceresana. "We expect a further growth in sales of approximately 2.5 percent per year so that more than $40 billion is reached in 2022."

Surfactants are mainly used to improve the properties of aqueous formulations. The best known application is in the cleaners and detergents segment, which accounted for around 56 percent of total demand in 2014. Surfactants are also used in cosmetics, textiles, pesticides, antistatic agents, lubricants, printing ink and other products. Of these applications, Ceresana forecasts the highest growth in demand, 2.6 percent per year until 2022, will be in the paints and plastics segments

Anionic vs. Non-ionic

Depending on charge and polarity, a difference is made between anionic, cationic, non-ionic and other surfactants. The current most significant type are anionic surfactants. Linear alkyl benzene sulfonates (LAS) are mainly used for detergents and have a global market share of 53 percent. However, the strongest growth is for non-ionic surfactants. With this type, fatty alcohol ethoxylates (FAEO) dominate, which can be obtained from palm kernel oil or coconut oil and are considered to be more environmentally friendly alternatives to LAS.

Other Countries, Other Surfactants

With a world market share of more than 36 percent, the Asia-Pacific region has the highest demand for surfactants. The product types reveal significant regional differences. Currently, Asia reaches a market share of more than 43 percent with alkyl benzene sulfonate. On the other hand, consumers in Western Europe and North America dominate the market for alkylsulfates, alkyl ether sulfates and alcohol ethoxy sulfates, with a share of around 62 percent.

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