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Critical Micelle Concentration: Measuring Surfactant Efficiency

by | Aug 5, 2011

Contact J R Hess for more information about critical micelle concentrations in surfactantsCritical Micelle Concentration (CMC) values are important indicators when considering which surfactant will provide optimal performance benefits for your formulation.

But what is CMC and why is it important for formulators?

When a certain amount of surfactant is added to water, the molecules will begin to form micelles.

Micelles consist of agglomerates of surfactant molecules inside the liquid and facilitate washing by storing hydrophic substances (fats, oils, etc.) within the agglomerates.

The CMC value indicates the amount of surfactant required to reach maximum surface tension reduction. Expressed in wt/%, the lower the CMC, the less surfactant required to effectively emulsify, solubilize and disperse soils at the surface.

Among the surfactant classes – nonionic, anionic, cationic and amphoteric – the lowest CMC’s are generally found in the nonionic category.

In fact, certain nonionic surfactants, i.e. Tomadol 25-7 from Air Products, possess very low CMC values and can deliver excellent wetting and detergency benefits.

In sum, CMC measures the efficiency of surfactants. For more information or if you have any questions about surfactants and CMCs, get in touch with a member of our team.

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