South Carolina Patent of the Month – February 2022

Natural oil solvents, or terpenes, are sourced from citrus fruits and trees. They have been formulated for use in a wide range of applications as they are both renewable and have benign environmental properties. Attempts at using them in cleaning formulations have been limited as they are not water soluble and therefore require surfactants and additives to be water rinsable. These surfactants are usually undesirable from an environmental standpoint, effectively negating the benign benefits of the terpene.

Ethox Chemicals, LLC is a specialty chemical manufacturing company who has been innovating chemicals for decades. Recently, they have focused their attention on these terpenes and how to effectively utilize them as cleaners despite their limitations.

This cleaning composition combines terpenes with a natural oil-based additive which increases the oil’s viscosity and introduces water solubility. Without this additive, a terpene solution has a low viscosity that prevents them from remaining on the surface to be cleaned long enough to be effective. The additive thickens the solution enough to create a gelled consistency. The additive also introduces additional emulsifying capabilities, improving the cleaner’s effectiveness. The oil-based thickener is a natural triglyceride oil like soybean or linseed oil. By adjusting the viscosity and providing water solubility, the cleaner can be largely composed of natural oils while still effectively cleaning surfaces. 

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