Phosphates are one of the main ingredients in laundry detergents. They serve as builders to improve the cleaning efficiency. Builders such as Sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) are important in cleaning process, as they help remove dirt from the clothes and minimize soap scum (ring seen on the tub, washing machine or shirt collars). The need for builders is especially high in areas with hard water that contain calcium and magnesium ions, since the builders prevent these ions from interfering with the cleaning process.
However the positive aspects of phosphates are often overshadowed by their harmful effects on rivers, lakes, streams, and other fresh waters, wherever the drains reach.
- Phosphates destroy the health of the lake, stream or other fresh water bodies, as they aid algae in the water to grow faster than it would naturally, thus turning clear lakes and rivers green and cloudy.
- This extra algae growth makes water unusable and difficult to clean.
- Phosphates leads to faster eutrophication, where lakes and other water bodies fill in with dead algae and other organic matter and eventually turn them into dry lands.
- Phosphates severely affect the aquatic life.
Given these harmful effects, laws and regulations have been enacted in many countries to limit or ban the use of phosphates in laundry detergents.
The best alternatives to phosphate in laundry detergents are poly acrylates with optimal molecular weights, like Turbopol PNA.
A complete detergent product removes soil, controls water hardness and prevents soil and water hardness salts from depositing onto the cleaned articlea and washing equipment parts. Polyacrylates are used in many modern detergent formulations as important detergent ingredients, Poly acrylates have been used in phosphate-free detergents as chelators to replace STPP, because their antacid ability and detergency in hardwater is better than those of STPP. Also, in addition polyacrylates have stronger ability in displacing ferric oxide, soap curd, carbon black and kaoline than the others.
Some of the distinct features of polyacrylates are:
- They disperse particulate soil.
- They bulid-up strong electrostatic cleaning forces between the soil particles and the surfaces to be cleaned.
- Sequester calcium, magnesium , iron and other metals.
- Act as excellent scale inhibitors.
- Exhibit detergent and soap building characteristics.
- Aid in detergent and soap processing.
- Are completely water soluble.
- Are available in a wide range of molecular weights.
- Are thermally stable.
- Are hydrolytically stable.
- Are compatible with non-aqueous polar solvents used in liquid detergents.
- Are colourless and odourless.
Turbopol PNA is a performance additive for phosphate free detergents. The salient features of Turbopol PNA are:
- Premium dispersing properties.
- Inhibits incrustation.
- Boosts detergency.
- Prevents soil redeposition.
- Replaces Phosphates.