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history of las
 
 

INTRODUCTION

Until recent years soap and water were the only cleaning agents available. Soap served society well for many years, until a shortage in animal and vegetable fats and oils, the basic ingredients necessary to make soap, during World Wars I and II, prompted research into potential alternatives. The studies led to the commercial discovery of surfactants which could be made synthetically from petrochemicals, which were readily available. This development proved to be a further stroke of luck for the cleaning industry and society. Unlike the traditional soap, the surfactants were more resistant to hard water and therefore improve the efficiency of the cleaning process.

DISCOVERY AND DEVELOPMENT OF LAS

Linear Alkylbenzene Sulphonate (LAS) was first commercialized in the early 1960s as a replacement for the poorly biodegradable DDBS (Dodecyl benzene sulphonate - Branched alkylbenzene sulphonate), which caused persistent foam in sewage treatment plants, streams and rivers. LAS may be considered as the first "green" cleaning agent, because it was the first surfactant introduced to solve an environmental problem.

Such replacement was the result of a vast research effort followed by investments to provide the world surfactant & detergent industry with one of the most cost-effective and environmentally safe surfactants. These investment activities have continued during the last 40 years and have yielded continuous improvements in quality and safety as well as new developments in both Linear Alkylbenzene production (LAB, the raw material for LAS) and sulphonation processes.

In parallel with the technological developments, substantial research is also continuing, and still continues today, in order to provide all the stakeholders with the most detailed and comprehensive knowledge about the environmental and human safety of LAS. Today LAS is probably the most researched chemical available. A recently produced report under the HERA project (HERA-LAS)highlights the state-of-the-art knowledge on Human and Environmental safety of LAS.