The primary function of sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate is to act as a surfactant in a detergent. It falls under the class of alkyl benzene sulfonates and is one of the commonly used synthetic anionic surfactants in detergent powders and formulations. The class of alkyl benzene sulfonates is sometimes known as detergent alkylate.

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Sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate is an anionic surfactant; therefore, it possesses negatively charged hydrophilic group. Anionic surfactants are the widely used type of surfactants in shampoos and laundering and dishwashing liquids. They are preferred especially because of their property of keeping the dirt away from fabrics once it is removed.

Sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonates are the type of anions that can exist in six isomers (with the exception of optical isomers). This property is contributed by the carbon of dodecyl chain that is attached at the fourth position on the benzene sulfonate group. Sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonates are generally produced as a mixture of these related sulfonates.

Sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate, with chemical formula C12H25C6H4SO3Na, is colorless salt. It is a sodium salt of dodecylbenzene sulfonic acid. The commonly implemented method for production of sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate is as follows: First, benzene is alkylated by dodecene (a long chain monoalkene) with the help of catalyst hydrogen fluoride. Then, the purified dodecylbenzenes (and related derivatives that are formed) are sulfonated with sulfur trioxide to produce sulfonic acid. This sulfonic acid is afterward neutralized with sodium hydroxide.

Most sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonates belong to the lineal alkyl benzene sulfonates group, which means that the dodecyl group (C12H25) is unbranched. There exists linear as well as branched isomers. However, branched isomers take more time to biodegrade in comparison to the linear ones. This trend is supported by studies that propose that biodegradability is influenced by the isomerization (branching). It is found that the salts formed by linear isomers are more toxic than branched ones, but the former compounds are able to biodegrade far more rapidly than the latter, which makes them a safer choice over time.

Earlier, alkyl benzene sulfonate anionics were produced from branched alkenes. They were found to exhibit resistance against degradation by bacteria at sewage treatment plants. This caused many rivers to contaminate with foam. Recycling of these surfactants to drinking water was also a worrying factor. These concerns resulted in the detergent industry moving from branched alkyl benzene sulfonates to linear ones, which are one of the major constituents of their formulations. Detergent components that are part of household effluent water are not left untreated and set free into rivers and other water bodies due to effective water treatment.

It is mandatory for surfactant ingredients in domestic detergents to be biodegradable in Western Europe.

Based on form, the market for sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate can be segmented into powders, liquids, and tablets. In terms of application, the market can be divided into laundry detergent, machine washing powder, detergent liquids, and others.

In terms of production, Asia Pacific dominates the market for sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate, while North America and Europe cumulatively hold larger share in terms of consumption. Countries such as China and India are anticipated to record prominent growth in the market in Asia Pacific. France, the U.K., Spain, and some other countries in Western Europe are likely to hold major share of the sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate market in Europe in the near future.

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Key players operating in the sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate market include TCI Chemicals (India) Pvt. Ltd., Sigma-Aldrich Co. LLC., American Elements, IRO GROUP INC., SRI DURGAA CHEMICALS, Wacker Chemie AG, TAYCA, Surfachem Group Ltd., Solvay, Stepan Company, and RX MARINE INTERNATIONAL.

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