Linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acid is the largest-volume synthetic surfactant because of its relatively low cost, good performance, the fact that it can be dried to a stable powder and the biodegradable environmental friendliness as it has straight chain.
LABSA is an anionic surfactants with molecules characterized by a hydrophobic and a hydrophilic group. Alpha-olefin sulfonates (AOS) alkyl sulfates (AS) are also examples of commercial anionic surfactants. They are nonvolatile compounds produced by sulfonation. LABSA are complex mixtures of homologues of different alkyl chain lengths (C10 to C13 or C14) and phenyl positional isomers of 2 to 5-phenyl in proportions dictated by the starting materials and reaction conditions, each containing an aromatic ring sulfonated at the para position and attached to a linear alkyl chain at any position with the exception of terminal one (1-phenyl).
The properties of LABSA differ in physical and chemical properties according to the alkyl chain length, resulting in formulations for various applications. The starting material LAB (linear alkylbenzene) is produced by the alkylation of benzene with n-paraffins in the presence of hydrogen fluoride (HF) or aluminium chloride (AlCl3) as a catalyst. LABSA is produced by the sulfonation of LAB with oleum in batch reactors or with SO3 in multi-tube falling film reactor.
Other sulfonation alternative reagents are sulfuric acid, diluted sulfur trioxide, chlorosulfonic acid and sulfamic acid on falling film reactors. LABSA are then neutralized to the desired salt (sodium, ammonium, calcium, potassium, and triethanolamine salts). Surfactants are widely used in the industry needed to improve contact between polar and non-polar media such as between oil and water or between water and minerals. Linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acid is mainly used to produce household detergents including laundry powders, laundry liquids, dishwashing liquids and other household cleaners as well as in numerous industrial applications.