Scientific article
Open access

Surfactants Based on Renewable Raw Materials: Carbon Dioxide Reduction Potential and Policies and Measures for the European Union

ContributorsPatel, Martin
Published inJournal of industrial ecology, vol. 7, no. 3-4, p. 47-62
Publication date2003

Under the European Commission's European Climate Change Programme, a group of experts studied the possibilities of using more renewable raw materials as chemical feedstock and assessed the related potential for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction. Surfactants were among the products studied. Surfactants are currently produced from both petrochemical feedstocks and renewable resources (oleochemical surfactants). Assuming, in a first step, that total surfactant production in the European Union remains constant until 2010, it was estimated that the amount of oleochemical surfactants could be increased from about 880 kilotons (kt) in 1998 to approximately 1,100 kt in 2010 (an increase of 24%). This substitution reduces the life-cycle CO2 emissions from surfactants by 8%; the theoretical maximum potential for total substitution is 37%. Because the surfactant market is expected to grow, the avoided emissions will probably exceed 8% of the current life-cycle CO2 emissions from surfactants. If compared to the CO2 emissions from the total industrial sector and, even more so, if compared to the total economy, the relative savings are much lower (0.02% to 0.09%). This leads to the conclusion that the increased production and use of biobased surfactants should be part of an overall GHG emission reduction strategy consisting of a whole range of measures addressing both energy demand and supply. This article also discusses policies and measures designed to increase the use of biobased surfactants.

  • Biobased products
  • Climate change
  • Greenhouse gases (GHGs)
  • Life-cycle assessment (LCA)
  • Oleochemicals
  • Petrochemicals
Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
Citation (ISO format)
PATEL, Martin. Surfactants Based on Renewable Raw Materials: Carbon Dioxide Reduction Potential and Policies and Measures for the European Union. In: Journal of industrial ecology, 2003, vol. 7, n° 3-4, p. 47–62. doi: 10.1162/108819803323059398
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1088-1980

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