Preparation of green non-ionic surfactants from 2,3-epoxy-1-propanol

  • Jing Han

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMaster of Philosophy


Non-ionic surfactants are important materials for use in textile, cosmetic and agricultural fields and have a large share of the overall surfactant global market. In addition, the use of bio raw materials in their production is important for sustainability aspects and can lead to “green” and differentiated products in the market. In this work, glycidol has been used as a starting material to produce non-ionic surfactants. Glycidol can be produced from glycerol carbonate, an important chemical intermediate which is synthesised via transesterification from glycerol, a by-product of biodiesel manufacture, and dimethyl carbonate.
All of the products presented in this work were prepared by reacting glycidol with a range of fatty alcohols. High yields were achieved after optimising different experimental conditions e.g. addition rate, reaction time, temperature and catalyst. Highly hydrophilic polyglyceryl ether-based non-ionic surfactants were obtained by increasing the ratio of glycidol to alcohol. Most of these materials showed high solubility in water and good surfactant properties including low critical micelle concentrations (CMC), low surface tension at the CMC point and good foaming characteristics which make their market prospects very favourable.
Date of Award31 Oct 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorMartin Atkins (Supervisor) & John Holbrey (Supervisor)


  • non-ionic surfactants (NIS), Glycidol (EP), poly(glyceryl) ethers, critical micelle concentration (CMC), foaming ability

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