Biodegradable chelating agents as substitutes for persistent chemicals
Chelating agents play a major role in the manufacturing process of a wide range of industrial products. They are used in several different industrial fields, including home and personal care, textile chemistry, metal surface treatment, food and beverages, and even pharmaceuticals, where the presence of metal ions might negatively impact the application. By binding metal ions, chelating agents prevent them interfering with desired reactions. In home care applications for instance, they improve the effectiveness of surfactants by hindering the formation of insoluble salts. In the food and beverages industry, chelating agents are able to prevent metallic or rancid off-tastes, which might be caused by metals present in the matrix.
Rapid industrialisation has escalated the market for chelating agents in various end-user industries. Hence, the annual global demand is estimated to reach 4.34 million tonnes by 2022.1
Currently, phosphates, especially sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) derivates remain the most commonly used chelating agents globally. However, many producers are trying to avoid their use, since their excessive release into water increases the discharge of nutrients as well as complexes with low biodegradability.
While many companies are indeed actively integrating sustainability principles into their businesses, the demand for nontoxic ingredients providing chelating properties is also strong and growing. As a result, the search is on for ecologically and environmentally friendly ingredients.
With the mission "From nature to ingredients®", Jungbunzlauer commits itself to the responsibility towards society and environment and is therefore a sustainable leader in naturally derived biodegradable ingredients. Providing excellent chelating properties, Jungbunzlauer’s sodium gluconate has proven to be a viable bio-based alternative to other usual chelating agents.
Jungbunzlauer’s sodium gluconate is manufactured by fermentation of renewable raw materials such as carbohydrates from corn. It is readily biodegradable by many organisms under aerobic as well as anaerobic wastewater conditions, and in the natural environment.
The fermentation-based manufacturing process from renewable raw materials together with good biodegradability make this Jungbunzlauer ingredient a sustainable option to replace traditional chelating agents. In addition, sodium gluconate is ECOCERT approved as raw material of 100% natural origin for use in personal care products and detergents.
Measurement methods for the sequestering power based on chemical titrations were internally developed and performed for sodium gluconate as well as other common chelating agents in order to understand and compare their ability to complex with some metal ions. In this way, sodium gluconate’s complexing performance has been demonstrated with calcium, magnesium, copper, and under varying conditions including different pH-values or temperatures.
It could be demonstrated that sodium gluconate is a good chelator for Cu2+ over a broad pH range. For Mg2+ and Ca2+ the sequestering power is lower compared to EDTA in the rather neutral pH range but goes up towards the alkaline milieu.
Are you willing to receive more information on this topic or to get a closer look on the complexing performance scientific results we have collected so far?
Some of these data can be obtained in our facts article available here: facts - chelating agents
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1 Ceresana e.K. Market Study: Chelating Agents. Constance: Ceresana e.K., 2015.