Biobased Solvent: Strip paint, clean the oven – without getting dizzy

When you think of a typical "green" cleaner or bio-based surfactant, an image of mild, citrus-scented liquid dish soap might come to mind. But you wouldn't use that stuff to clean a year's worth of burnt grease from your oven or wash the latex paint off your paint brushes. Usually, those kind of tasks call for cleaners that require significant ventilation.
Oven cleaners

Coming soon: Oven cleaners that don't make you see spots. Credit: Elevance

But thanks to a collaboration between Stepan, a cleaning products ingredient maker, and Elevance, a biobased specialty chemical firm, consumers and professionals will be able to aggressively clean things without seeing stars. Elevance and Stepan are talking about their first commercial product launched out of the collaboration called Steposol MET-10U. The firms say it can take the place of high pH alkaline degreasers in household cleaners, N-methyl pyrrolidone in adhesive removers, and methylene chloride in paint removers. The product has a biorenewable carbon index of 75%. It is low VOC, with a boiling point of 297C, and can be used in much lower concentrations than the the solvents it replaces. How is this done? Basically, Elevance uses olefin metathesis to create specialty building block molecules from waste oils (i.e. from oil palm farming). And those molecules can be very specifically functionalized for different uses, i.e. to create esters for surfactants, lubricants, and personal care products. Of all the benefits of Steposol, it's low volatility really makes it a winner, according to Andy Corr, Senior Vice President at Elevance. California has issued strict VOC regulations for many consumer products - for both human health and air quality reasons. Andy points out that even biobased ingredients, such as d-limonene made from citrus peels, can be very volatile. And Robert Slone, VP of surfactant product development at Stepan, says this is only the first of many outcomes from the partnership, which formed back in 2010. "It is exciting to see the performance that we are able to achieve - chemistry that is much more environmentally responsible, less toxic, non-corrosive, and low VOC than the options that are out there currently."  

Author: Melody Bomgardner

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