The addition of ethylene oxide (EO) to a fatty alcohol results in a surface-active agent having the carbon rich oleo based fatty alcohol and the hydrophilic polyoxoethylene fragment. Fatty alcohols are derived from natural sources like palm kernel oil, coconut oil, rapeseed oil, castor oil etc. Synthetic fatty alcohols are produced in large scale from petroleum-based hydrocarbons by the oxo process.
As described earlier, Fatty Alcohol Ethoxylates are composed of fatty alcohols, which have oil-loving properties and the polyoxoethylene part that prefers water. These dual characteristics enable the fatty alcohol ethoxylate to inhabit the interfaces between oil and water and combine them by reducing the interfacial energy providing effective mixing resulting in clear solutions/formulations.
Therefore, such Fatty Alcohol Ethoxylate find large-scale applications in detergents (wetting agents, emulsifiers), personal hygiene products (shampoos, emollients, foam boosters, Viscosity builders), leather (degreasing, wetting), textile paints and agriculture (emulsifiers, dispersion) process.