Ethoxylated nonionic surfactants in hydrophobic solvent: Interaction with aqueous and membrane-immobilized poly(acrylic acid)

Abhay R. Ladhe, Arseni Radomyselski, D. Bhattacharyya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Interaction between ethoxylated nonionic surfactants and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) in aqueous solutions is well-documented in the literature. In the present study, pure ethoxylated surfactant solution in a hydrophobic solvent was permeated through a partially cross-linked PAA composite membrane to quantify the surfactant-PAA interaction in the heterogeneous system. Partitioning of the mixture of the surfactants (15-S-5) between the hydrophobic solvent and aqueous solution of PAA was also studied. The role of ethylene oxide group variation in the surfactant-PAA interaction for the heterogeneous system was established by performing experiments with pure surfactants having the same alkyl chain length but varying ethoxylate chain lengths. It was observed that the surfactants with a higher number of ethylene oxide groups per molecule exhibit stronger interaction with PAA. The literature data for adsorption of pure ethoxylated surfactants (C 12E n) on a hydrophobic solid-water interface was correlated and compared with the data obtained in our study. It was calculated that resistance in terms of transfer of surfactant molecules from a hydrophobic solvent domain to PAA domain lowers the extent of PAA-surfactant interaction by an order of magnitude. Only 40% of available carboxyl groups were accessible for interaction with the ethoxylated nonionic surfactants due to diffusion limitations. Finally the pH sensitivity of the PAA-surfactant complex was verified by successful regeneration of the membrane on permeation of slightly alkaline water. The regeneration and reuse of membrane is especially attractive in terms of process development for nonionic surfactant separation from hydrophobic solvents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-621
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 17 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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