Case Study: Partnering With Clients To Find Solutions

Problem
Most of the hundreds of products Ethox manufacture are surfactants, but several dozen are not. Many of these are specialty ingredients for other chemical companies’ products. A number are manufactured specifically for a single customer as the output of a joint development program with them. For example, we were approached by a large paint additive manufacturer to help them develop a new polymer system in conjunction with their R&D organization. They needed help identifying and manufacturing a specialty monomer for this new polymer family.

Process
They had a good idea of the general type of monomer they needed, and had narrowed the monomer structure to a family, but did not know which member of the family would be best. These were all new molecules. They asked us to prepare small quantities of each in our pilot plant for their chemists to use in preparing their new polymer system. After the first round of testing, they narrowed the candidate choices down to two for further consideration. Ethox prepared a larger sample of one and before the second could be made, the partner liked the first one so much that further work on the second candidate was postponed.

Solution
Over the next several months, Ethox prepared larger pilot samples for the customer’s continued polymer development while doing process development work. During this time, we jointly filed a PMN. The product went commercial, and has continued to grow in volume for Ethox while the customer’s polymer product has gained market share. This has been a win-win situation for both companies.

Case Study: Discovering Solutions for Commercial Product Lines

Problem
Ethox Chemicals, LLC was contacted by a customer to solve a rather perplexing problem. The challenge to disperse inorganic particles throughout a high modulus polymer was one not solved by the chemistry at the time. All commercial products designed for related tasks had failed. The success of this company to penetrate and create a new market was dependent upon solving this challenge. There was much on the line, and it was a thin one between success and failure.

Process
Our technical group took to the task at hand by first scouring all of the patent literature available at the time. Nothing came to light for this particular challenge, not even a hint to give us direction into this area. Next we looked at the failed products suggested by other companies, not yet competitors. What were they advertised to do and how were they supposed to work? This gave us application knowledge, but did not give any direction as to the chemistry that could be used. Our thinking led us to believe we had to offer something to adhere to the inorganic particles, and allow it to retain the ‘dispersant’ on the surface of the particle as it went through the process. What would allow this effect? We knew our current E-Sperse® line did this in aqueous systems, but knew the current form would not work in the non-aqueous higher modulus polymer matrix. We began to evaluate possible ‘end groups’ we could add to the current base E-Sperse® hydrophobe to attain the property of adherence.

Solution
As discussions between the technical staff and sales people ensued it came to light one of our technical sales representatives had some knowledge of a similar application in another market area. It was decided to modify this chemistry with the new end group and test it in the non-aqueous high modulus polymer application. The first sample sent worked, but not well. The product was too hydrophilic for the application. We produced another sample with a very high hydrophobic nature. The new sample worked quite well and offered some better properties than expected. Today the market is quite a success.

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Case Study: Solving One Challenge Can Lead to Multiple New Products

Problem
A local latex manufacturing customer of ours was having extreme difficulty obtaining a product from an international chemical company. This had become a big problem for them since this raw material was used in three of their key latexes. They contacted us and asked us if we had anything like the product in question. Before we started to create a counter, we discussed if they desired any improvements to the current product. Generating a lower particle size latex was the answer given.

Process
Based on prior experience and good instincts, we were able to arrive at a latex emulsifier offering very good particle size and stability with only three pilot plant runs.

Solution
Since then, more than three new products have been developed for different modulus latexes. These products are commercial today. We’ve often found that as one problem is solved, multiple new products can spring from the solution.

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Case Study: Creating Green Products with Raw Materials

Problem
A newly formed coatings company contacted us with a request to add ethylene oxide to a ‘green’ raw material to make a new product.

Process
We researched the possibilities by first checking if there were any patents in this area. There were not, so this became a ‘proof of concept’ task. Several pilot plant runs were made.

Solution
Performance results were not very good until we got the idea to add another functional group before adding the ethylene oxide. Evaluations of these modified products are ongoing and looking promising, and the concept of being able to ethoxylate this product has been proven.

Need more information or want to request a free sample? Contact us at EsperseTechSupport@ethox.com