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Boost performance at no extra cost on a global scale

Boost performance at no extra cost on a global scale

Hand dishwash detergent manufacturers can boost performance by adding enzymes to their formulation. With the right approach, enzymes can be incorporated at no extra cost in spite of regional, national and even brand variations in formulation.

By Alessandro Izzo, Industry Technology Specialist, Novozymes Household Care
May 1, 2019

Getting ahead in the hand dishwash detergent field means finding and incorporating innovative technologies. This can be especially challenging in hand dishwash formulation, as what works in one region won’t necessarily work in another. 

From region to region around the globe, hand dishwash detergent formulations are built very differently. That impacts which innovative technologies can be incorporated into formulations. This challenge is especially relevant to global players in the hand dishwash detergent segment. Ideally, their innovations need to be flexible enough to be scaled up globally, yet remain equally effective across regions.

Surfactants are usually one of the highest volume ingredients in hand dishwash detergents. There is huge variation in the types of surfactants used from region to region, as shown below.

Figure 1
A global picture of surfactant use showing the varied usage from region to region.

Wide variations within regions and countries

The variations don’t just exist between regions. There’s also a wide variation in formulations within regions and even within countries. Again, this is especially true in the case of surfactants and foam boosters. 

As the graph below shows, the concentrations of Sodium Laureth Sulfate varies widely between leading brands in different countries within the Asia Pacific region. And that pattern of wide variations within a region is repeated in the Middle East and North America. 

The graph also shows the wide variations in Sodium Laureth Sulfate that can exist in just one country. Italy and Turkey are good examples of this.

The same varied use patterns can be seen with Cocamidopropyl Betaine. This product is not used at all in Asia Pacific, the Middle East or North America, and only by a few countries in Europe.

Figure 2
The use of Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine varies widely from region to region, within regions, and even within countries.

Cost-neutral performance boost

Enzymes are a technological innovation that can boost detergent performance. Amylases are a class of enzymes that target starch. They catalyze a reaction of the starch molecule, cleaving it into smaller molecules like glucose. The concerted action of millions of amylases in a detergent allows surfactant micelles to easily solubilize cleaved starch molecules. 

It is possible to get these benefits at no extra cost by replacing surfactant with enzymes. It’s not a simple one-to-one replacement, however, rather a net benefit gain. Although surfactants cannot break down starch alone, they work on starch soils in synergy with amylase. So although replacing surfactant with enzymes leads to a reduction in surfactant, your detergent’s overall performance will be higher. 

And there are ‘low-hanging fruits’ that will benefit most from this approach. As is clear from the graph above, surfactant use in some countries and brands is far higher than in others. In these cases, a cost-neutral replacement of surfactant with enzymes – and all the associated performance benefits - would be achievable. 

Surfactant can comprise around 20% of a the detergent’s composition (see chart at left below). By adding enzymes, you can cut surfactant levels by up to 25% (see chart at right below).

Figure 3

Changing the composition of a detergent to cut surfactant costs can allow for the inclusion of enzymes on a cost-neutral basis.

Challenging ingredients

Another key variation in formulas across regions is the use of Sodium Dodecylbenzenesulfonate, Ethoxylated Alcohols and Amine Oxides. 

Sodium Dodecylbenzenesulfonate and Ethoxylated Alcohols are used only where the concentration of other surfactants in a formulation is low, and even then in very few countries. Of the countries included in the cost/composition analyses above, around five use Sodium Dodecylbenzenesulfonate and around eight use Ethoxylated Alcohols.

Countries and products that don’t use Cocamidopropyl Betaine often replace it with Amine Oxides. They’re found in formulations across North America, and a number of EU formulations, but they’re rare in other regions. 

Amine Oxides are especially challenging in terms of formulations, as they often contain residues of hydrogen peroxide. In higher concentrations, that impacts chemical and physical stability characteristics such as fragrance and color.

Amine Oxides are also a challenge for stability in enzymatic detergents. Residual enzyme activity after storage is impacted by the presence of hydrogen peroxide in lauramine oxide and laurylamidopropyl AO. Varying pH levels further affect residual enzyme activity. 

However, it is possible to achieve good enzyme stability even in the presence of Amine Oxides through the addition of oxygen scavengers. This solution is typical of formulating with enzymes. It’s simple as long as you take action to lesson the impact of (or avoid) ingredients that affect  the stability of the enzyme you wish to include.. 

The table below is based on extensive internal testing. We found that in general residual enzyme activity wasn’t impacted enough to affect performance - even in harsh pH conditions - if we used this table as a guide.

Figure 4
Key ingredients that impact enzyme stability in hand dishwash formulation. SLES is only tough on protease and amylase at lower pH. AEO is very mild. APG, MES and Lauramine oxide are harsh to amylase at low pH, mild at neutral pH. Cocamidopropyl betaine is very enzyme-friendly.

Keeping the foam

Formulation cost and stability aren’t the only considerations when formulating with enzymes. Consumers often associate performance with foaming, which is why it’s a key parameter in hand dishwash detergent tests with consumer associations around the world. 

A common concern when formulating with enzymes is that adding enzymes might reduce foaming. To investigate that concern, we used standardized methodologies – modified to fit our labs – to measure foam height and plate count. The results below are clear. The inclusion of enzymes does not impact foaming in hand dishwash detergents.

Figure 5

Ross Miles method and Automated plate count method tests show that including enzymes in hand dishwash detergents does not impact foaming.

Another concern with regards to formulating with enzymes is that reducing surfactantmight reduce foaming.

Figure 6

Ross Miles method and Plate Count method tests show that reducing surfactants in hand dishwash detergents does not impact foaming.

Again, the results of our tests (above) show that this is not the case. The impact of 10~20% detergent reduction on plate count numbers is a <2 decrease in plate count and a <10% reduction in foam height.

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