Anionic Surfactants

Ethane Sulfonates

Ethane Sulfonates

General Names:

Alcohol ether (or ethoxy) sulfonates, Alkyl phenol ether (or ethoxy) sulfonates, Ethane sulfonates, Ether sulfonates.


There has been a small specialist use for many years, but in (1985-1990) are used considerable interest due to their potential use in enhanced oil recovery. The products cannot be made by conventional methods of sulfonation (oleum, chlorsulfonic acid or sulfur trioxide).

Published methods of preparation are:

1. The Strecker reaction: The usual method of preparing the chloride is by reaction of phosphorous pentachloride with an alcohol, ethoxylated alcohol or ethoxylated nonyl phenol. The products from the Strecker reaction contain a number of impurities: fatty alcohol; fatty chloride; sodium sulfate and sodium sulfite.

2. Using epichlorohydrin:This is the reaction between fatty alcohol, epichlorhydrin and sodium sulfite.

General properties

The sulfonate group has better chemical stability than the corresponding sulfate groups on alcohols or ethoxylated alcohols. Sulfonating ethoxylated alcohols gives products with excellent water solubility and chemical stability, particularly at high temperatures.


High price compared to sulfonates or ether sulfates


1. Industrial detergents: Used for many years in surgical scrubs.

2. Oil field chemicals: Enhanced oil recovery.

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