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February 1996 Surface-Active

Page 1 583.9000 A
1998 by the Chemical Economics HandbookSRI International
CEH Marketing Research Report
LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES
By
Robert F. Modler
with
Rene Willhalm and Yuka Yoshida
CEH Marketing Research Reports provide comprehensive analysis, historical data and
forecasts pertaining to the international competitive market environment for chemical
products. Detailed supply and demand data are developed for the United States,
WesternEurope and Japan with the cooperation of chemical producers and consumers
worldwide.
Updated information may be available from the following CEH Program services:
G CEH OnlineThe full text retrieval and update database. Updated monthly.
G CEH CD-ROMThe entire contents of the CEH on one CD-ROM and including CEH
Online updates. Issued quarterly.
G Manual of Current Indicators (MCI)Updates of statistical data derived from
published sources. Issued quarterly.
G The Economic Environment of the Chemical Industry (EECI)Economic
indicators that impact the chemical industry; issued quarterly with the MCI.
G CEH Inquiry ServiceSRI Consulting researchers are available to answer your
questions.
U.S.A.Telephone: 650/859-3900 Fax: 650/859-2182
ZurichTelephone: 411/283-6333 Fax: 411/283-6320
TokyoTelephone: 813/3505-8916 Fax: 813/3505-8922
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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1998 by the Chemical Economics HandbookSRI International
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Summary.................................................................................................................................................. 2
Manufacturing Processes......................................................................................................................... 5
Environmental Issues............................................................................................................................... 7
Supply and Demand by Region ............................................................................................................... 7
United States........................................................................................................................................ 7
Producing Companies ...................................................................................................................... 7
Salient Statistics............................................................................................................................... 10
Consumption.................................................................................................................................... 13
Household Products..................................................................................................................... 14
Heavy-duty laundry detergents (powders and liquids)............................................................ 15
Historical LAS consumption patterns...................................................................................... 17
Light-duty liquid detergents..................................................................................................... 18
Miscellaneous household cleaners........................................................................................... 19
Industrial, Institutional and Commercial Applications................................................................ 19
Price................................................................................................................................................. 20
Trade................................................................................................................................................ 22
Canada ................................................................................................................................................. 23
Mexico................................................................................................................................................. 23
Western Europe.................................................................................................................................... 24
Producing Companies ...................................................................................................................... 24
Salient Statistics............................................................................................................................... 29
Consumption.................................................................................................................................... 30
Household Products..................................................................................................................... 32
Heavy-duty laundry powders................................................................................................... 32
Heavy-duty laundry liquids ..................................................................................................... 32
Light-duty dishwashing liquids ............................................................................................... 32
Other household cleaners......................................................................................................... 33
Industrial, Institutional and Commercial Applications................................................................ 33
Price................................................................................................................................................. 33
Trade................................................................................................................................................ 34
Eastern Europe..................................................................................................................................... 34
Producing Companies ...................................................................................................................... 34
Consumption.................................................................................................................................... 37
Japan .................................................................................................................................................... 37
Producing Companies ...................................................................................................................... 37
Salient Statistics............................................................................................................................... 39
Consumption.................................................................................................................................... 40
Price................................................................................................................................................. 41
Trade................................................................................................................................................ 41
Bibliography ............................................................................................................................................ 41
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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1998 by the Chemical Economics HandbookSRI International
SUMMARY
Linear alkylbenzene sulfonate (LAS) is the worlds largest-volume synthetic surfactant and is widely used
in household detergents as well as in numerous industrial applications. It was developed as a
biodegradable replacement for nonlinear (i.e., branched) alkylbenzene sulfonate (BAS) and has largely
replaced BAS in household detergents throughout the developed countries.
The products referred to as LAS or linear alkylate sulfonates include the various salts of sulfonated
alkylbenzenes as well as the free acid. LAS is generally produced in equipment that is also used to
produce other sulfonated/sulfated products; therefore, capacities far exceed demand for LAS alone.
The following table shows the 1994 supply/demand balance for LAS in the three major world areas:
Supply/Demand for LAS by Major Region1994
(millions of pounds)
United
States
a
Western
Europe Japan Total
Capacity
b
2,288 >2,866 364 >5,518
Production 610 968 333 1,911
Imports 5 neg 9 14
Exports 5 66 2 73
Consumption 610 902 340 1,852
(thousands of metric tons)
United
States
a
Western
Europe Japan Total
Capacity
b
1,038 >1,300 165 >2,503
Production 276.5 439 151 866.5
Imports 2 neg 4 6
Exports 2 30 1 33
Consumption 276.5 409 154 839.5

a. Production and consumption in Canada amounted to about 73 million
pounds (33 thousand metric tons), and production and consumption in
Mexico amounted to about 452 million pounds (205 thousand metric tons).
b. Capacity data for the United States and Western Europe refer to total
sulfonation capacity and include capacity to produce other sulfonated or
sulfated products; Japanese capacity data are for dedicated LAS production.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
About 85% of LAS is used in household detergents, including laundry powders, laundry liquids,
dishwashing liquids and other household cleaners. Industrial, institutional and commercial detergents
account for most of the other applications of LAS, but it is also used as an emulsifier (e.g., for agricultural
herbicides and in emulsion polymerization) and wetting agent. The following table shows a breakdown in
the use of LAS in the various end-use categories, as well as projections for future market changes over the
1994-1999 period.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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1998 by the Chemical Economics HandbookSRI International
Consumption of LAS by Major Region1994
(millions of pounds)
United States Western
Europe Japan Total
Laundry Powders 289 419 264.5 972.5
Laundry Liquids 148.5 97 9 254.5
Dishwashing Liquids 84.5 187.5 17.5 289.5
Other Household Cleaners 18.5 42 9 69.5
Nonhousehold Uses 69.5 156.
5
40 2
6
6
Total 610 902 340 1,852
(thousands of metric tons)
United
States
Western
Europe Japan Total
Laundry Powders 131 190 120 441
Laundry Liquids 67.5 44 4 115.5
Dishwashing Liquids 38 85 8 131
Other Household Cleaners 8.5 19 4 31.5
Nonhousehold Uses 31.5 71 18 120.5
Total 276.5 409 154 839.5
Average Annual Growth Rate
(percent)
1994-
1999 0% 2% 1.5%

SOURCE: CEH estimates.
LAS competes with several other major surfactants for use in household detergents. Some of the
competitive surfactants have greater hard-water tolerance and better compatibility with enzymes, and are
milder than LAS. Because of its low cost and other favorable properties, however, LAS will remain a
major surfactant for many years. Although the consumption of LAS in the United States, Western Europe
and Japan will probably remain unchanged or decline slightly, its consumption in the developing world is
likely to grow rapidly.
Most of the LAS production is accounted for by detergent manufacturers that captively consume it. The
largest of these detergent manufacturers are the Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Henkel,
Lion and Kao groups. The latter two operate principally in Japan and other East Asian countries. The
balance of LAS production is accounted for by chemical producers that also sell to detergent
manufacturers, either directly or through toll sulfonation arrangements. The large chemical producers of
LAS also supply it to smaller detergent manufacturers that have no LAS production capability and to
industrial and institutional cleaning companies. The merchant suppliers may also sell LAS in the form of
formulated products. Examples of large merchant suppliers are Stepan Company in the United States, the
Huels Group in Western Europe and Tayca Corporation in Japan.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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MANUFACTURING PROCESSES
Linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acid is prepared commercially by sulfonating linear alkylbenzene (LAB)
with either oleum (10-25% sulfur trioxide [SO
3
] in sulfuric acid) or an SO
3
-air mixture. In both
processes, sulfur trioxide is the sulfonating agent and the major product is p-alkylbenzene sulfonic acid.
Both batch and continuous processes are used.
One advantage of the SO
3
-air route is that it is easier to produce lighter-colored sulfonic acid using this
process than with oleum. In addition, the oleum route leads to a product that contains a significant level
of by-product sodium sulfate. Although the oleum-derived product is readily formulated into powders, it
is less desirable for use in formulating liquid products, where the excess sodium sulfate can create
solubility problems. Thus, the SO
3
-air process is the preferred route for LAS used in liquid formulations.
Since merchant producers of LAS prefer a product that can be sold for either use, all have converted to
the SO
3
-air process. Also, merchant producers are able to use the same process and equipment to produce
other sulfonates (e.g., alpha-olefin sulfonates and methyl ester sulfonates) and sulfates (e.g., alcohol
sulfates and alcohol ether sulfates). Some detergent manufacturers that captively consume most of their
product in powders and liquids continue to use both routes, but they rely on the older oleum route for
most of their powder formulations and use the newer SO
3
-air route for most of the LAS used in liquid
formulations. As of late 1995, only five oleum plants were operated by detergent manufacturers still
producing LAS in the United States.
In a typical batch oleum sulfonation process, oleum is added to the LAB reaction mixture at the suction
side of a pump that is recycling the contents of the reactor. Under normal commercial conditions, 1.0-1.2
pounds of oleum are required per pound of linear alkylbenzene. The reaction temperature is carefully
controlled while the acid is added, and the reaction goes to completion during a 30- to 45-minute
digestion period. Excessive time or high temperature produces undesirable dark-colored products. In a
typical continuous oleum sulfonation process, oleum and LAB are proportioned to a reactor mixing head
and the reaction temperature is closely controlled using recycling of the reaction mixture through a heat
exchanger. The reaction is generally completed in eight to fifteen minutes. Whether batch or continuous,
the reaction is carried out until sulfonation is 98-99% complete.
Sulfonation with oleum produces linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acid containing considerable excess
sulfuric acid. If this material is neutralized with aqueous sodium hydroxide, the resulting low-active
detergent slurry contains about four parts of sodium sulfate for every six parts of the active LAS. These
low-active detergent slurries are somewhat restricted in their areas of application because of the high
sodium sulfate content. This shortcoming of the oleum-derived products may be partially overcome by
adding enough water to the final sulfonation reaction mixture to dilute the sulfuric acid present from
about 98% to 71-72%. At this concentration, the sulfuric acid is insoluble in the linear alkylbenzene
sulfonic acid and separates as a second layer. Decanting of this sulfuric acid layer leaves an upper phase
containing 87-90% linear alkylate sulfonic acid and only 7-9% sulfuric acid. When this product is
neutralized with caustic soda, a high-active detergent slurry results.
In a typical batch SO
3
-air process, liquid sulfur trioxide is vaporized in a stream of dry air, and the
resulting 5-15% SO
3
stream is then reacted with the linear alkylbenzene.* As in oleum processes, good
mixing and heat removal are necessary to avoid oxidation and charring, which result in dark-colored
products. The reaction mixture is digested to complete the reaction. Air and the small remaining excess

* One variation of the batch process uses a liquid sulfur trioxidesulfur dioxide mixture in which the sulfur
dioxide acts as a diluent for the sulfur trioxide, as a solvent for the reaction and as a refrigerant so that the
reaction can be run at very low temperatures (7 to 9C).
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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of sulfur trioxide (only a 3-5% molar excess is used) are removed. The reaction mixture is then hydrated
with a small amount of water to hydrolyze any alkylbenzene sulfonic acid anhydrides present in the
reaction mixture. In continuous SO
3
-air processes, the color of the sulfonic acid products is improved by
careful control and maintenance of reaction temperatures. Variations in the method of temperature control
include recycling the reaction mixture through heat exchangers and the use of two or more reactors
connected in series. When the mixture is neutralized with sodium hydroxide, a 96-97% sulfonate product
is obtained.
The free acid in a liquid form (97% active) is the product most commonly sold in the merchant market,
since it can be transported at the lowest cost. Shipping a 40% solution of the sodium salt is more
expensive since it adds the cost of transporting large volumes of water. Most of the free acid is ultimately
converted to the sodium salt by detergent manufacturers and other end users. The sodium salt is
preferred, because it combines low cost with physical and performance properties suitable for a wide
range of applications. For certain applications, however, other inorganic salts (e.g., ammonium, calcium,
potassium) and organic amine salts (e.g., isopropylamine, triethanolamine) are also prepared.
It is estimated that an average of 0.707 pound of LAB is required per pound of sodium alkylbenzene
sulfonate produced. Production of linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acid and neutralization to the
corresponding sodium salt may be illustrated as follows:
mol wt:
+
R
246 (average C
12
chain)
linear alkylbenzene
H
2
SO
4
/SO
3
oleum
or
SO
3
/air
326 (average C
12
chain)
+ H
2
SO
4

R
SO
3
H
linear alkylbenzene-
sulfonic acid
+ NaOH
348 (average C
12
chain)
R
+ H
2
O
SO
3
Na
sodium
alkylbenzene-
326 (average C
12
chain)
R
linear alkylbenzene-
sulfonic acid
SO
3
H
mol wt:
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
LAS has been safely consumed in large volumes throughout the developed world for over 25 years.*
Although its use was once questioned in Western Europe because of its lack of biodegradability under
anaerobic conditions, LAS is disposed of under aerobic conditions (i.e., sewage treatment plants), where
it does fully biodegrade. In any case, no legislation adversely affecting the use of LAS is expected in
Western Europe or elsewhere, and it is expected to remain the worlds largest surfactant used in
detergents for many years.
According to a recent comprehensive risk assessment study carried out by the Netherlands government,
the usage of LAS in laundry detergent powders does not involve any significant environmental risk.
LAS, as well as other large-volume surfactants, are efficiently (over 99%) removed in the sewage
treatment systems. Similar conclusions were included in the end-of-year report of Britains Department
of the Environment. This report states that LAS is readily biodegradable and its use in consumer
products poses no hazard to human health or the environment.
The EUs regulatory committee on ecolabeling recently approved detergents based on LAS, and they will
now qualify for the EU ecolabel.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND BY REGION
UNITED STATES
PRODUCING COMPANIES
The companies listed in the following table produce linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acid by sulfonation of
alkylbenzene. Most of these sulfonators also neutralize at least a portion of their output to produce salts.
Only one of the domestic sulfonatorsVista Chemical Companyhas captive supplies of linear
alkylbenzene. In addition to the companies listed in the table, other companies produce salts from
purchased acids. According to industry sources, there are many such companies, and most use these salts
captively.
A definitive identification of U.S. capacity dedicated to the sulfonation of linear alkylbenzene cannot be
made since chemicals other than linear alkylbenzene (e.g., alpha-olefins) can also be sulfonated in some
of the same equipment. Also, facilities using SO
3
-air processes are often used for the sulfation of
alcohols and alcohol ethoxylates. Therefore, the annual capacity figures given below represent only
potential production capacity for LAS, provided that capacity was devoted solely to this task.

* Further information documenting biodegradation of LAS may be found in A. M. Nielsen et al., LAS
Biodegradation: Ultimate Fate of Alkyl and Ring Carbon, paper presented at the 1980 Annual Meeting of the
Soap and Detergent Association, January 31-February 3, 1980, Boca Raton, Florida.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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1998 by the Chemical Economics HandbookSRI International
>>U.S. Producers of LAS<<
Company and
Plant Location
Annual Capacity
as of September 1995
a
(millions of pounds)
Sulfonation
Process Products
Albright & Wilson Americas
Blue Island, IL
b
90 SO
3
-air
BIT Manufacturing, Inc.
Copperhill, TN na na Sodium salt
Colgate-Palmolive Company
Cambridge, OH 90 SO
3
-air Sodium salt
Jeffersonville, OH 80
The Dial Corp.
St. Louis, MO 90 SO
3
-air Acid and sodium salt
Huish Chemical Company
Riverton, WY 18 Oleum Acid and sodium salt
Lever Brothers Company
Baltimore, MD 75 SO
3
-air Acid and sodium salt
Hammond, IN 30 SO
3
-air Acid and sodium salt
Pilot Chemical Company
Avenel, NJ 25 SO
3
-SO
2
Sodium salt
Lockland, OH
Middletown, OH
Middletown, OH
30
30
30
SO
3
-SO
2
SO
3
-SO
2
SO
3
-air
Acid; dimethylamine, isopropylamine,
triethanolamine and sodium salts
The Procter & Gamble Company
c
Procter & Gamble Chemicals
Alexandria, LA
Augusta, GA
St. Bernard, OH

380 Oleum Sodium salt


Stepan Company
Anaheim, CA
Fieldsboro, NJ
Millsdale, IL
Winder, GA

1,300 SO3-air Acid; isopropylamine, triethanolamine,


sodium, calcium and potassium salts
Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.
Astor Products
Blue Arrow Division
Jacksonville, FL 10 Oleum Acid and sodium salt
Witco Corporation
c
Oleochemicals Group
Houston, TX 75 SO
3
-air Acid; calcium, triethanolamine, di-
ethanolamine, sodium and ammonium
salts
Total 2,288

a. Theoretical capacity, if production were solely devoted to 100% active linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acid.
b. Acquired from Witco Corp. in late 1977.
c. The sulfonation plants and capacities listed for The Procter & Gamble Co. and Witco Corp. do not include these
companies chlorosulfonic acid sulfonation units, since these units are not used to make LAS. Also excluded are Procter &
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Gambles SO
3
-air plants at Baltimore, Maryland and Kansas City, Kansas, which do not produce LAS.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
Since 1993, three producers have terminated production of LAS and other significant changes have
occurred. These are listed below.
G BIT Manufacturing, Inc. began producing LAS at its plant, which previously produced only
branched alkylbenzene sulfonates (BAS). Its production of LAS is believed to be very small.
G Colgate-Palmolive shut down its Kansas City, Kansas and Jeffersonville, Indiana oleum and SO
3
-
air units. However, the company added a new SO
3
-air unit at Cambridge, Ohio.
G The Dial Corp. shut down its oleum unit at Bristol, Pennsylvania, but increased its SO
3
-air
capacity at St. Louis, Missouri.
G Kleenbrite Laboratories Inc. shut down its oleum sulfonation unit at Brockport, New York.
G Pilot Chemical Company added a new 27-30 million pound-per-year SO
3
-air unit at Middletown,
Ohio in 1993.
G The Procter & Gamble Company closed its Quincy, Massachusetts and St. Bernard, Ohio oleum
sulfonation units and consolidated production at the other three sites. Its SO
3
units at Ivorydale,
Ohio and Kansas City, Kansas continue to operate but have not produced LAS for many years.
Instead, the plants produce alcohol ether sulfates; consequently, these plant sites have been
dropped from the list.
G Stepan Company increased its capacity for producing LAS from 900 million to 1,300 million
pounds per year.
G Theochem Laboratories, Inc. shut down its oleum sulfonation unit at Atlanta, Georgia.
G Safeway Stores, Incorporated closed its Oakland, California oleum unit.
G Lever Brothers Company shut down its last oleum sulfonation unit at Los Angeles, California.
Of the eleven producers listed in the table, six are household detergent manufacturers that internally
consume most or all of their LAS production for detergents. The other five sell nearly all of their LAS in
the merchant market, either as such or in surfactant blends. Four merchant producers that account for at
least 95% of the merchant market (including LAS-containing blends of surfactants sold to detergent
manufacturers) are Pilot Chemical Company, Stepan Company, Vista Chemical Company and Witco
Corporation. Of these four, Stepan is by far the largest, as shown in the following figure:
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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1998 by the Chemical Economics HandbookSRI International
U.S. Production of LAS by Manufacturer1994
Detergent
Manufacturers
for Captive Use
(58%)
Stepan
(26%)
Vista
(8%)
Witco
(4%)
Pilot
(4%)
SALIENT STATISTICS
The following graph and table provide estimates of the U.S. supply/demand balance for LAS in recent
years.
>>U.S. Supply/Demand for LAS<<
(millions of pounds)
Production Imports Exports
a
Apparent
Consumption
1975 631 1 3 629
1976 663 1 4 660
1977 679 1 4 676
1978 736 1 5 732
1979 725 1 6 720
1980 699 1 6 694
1981 626 1 4 623
1982 599 1 5 595
1983 623 1 3 621
1984 652 1 6 647
1985 698 10
b
4 704
1986 746 10 4 752
1987 798 10 4 804
1988 855 10 5 860
1989 848 8 4 852
1990 906 10 7 909
1991 855 10 5 860
1992 864 5 5 864
1993 795 neg neg 795
1994 641 5 5 641
1995 624 2 4 622
1996 661 neg neg 661
1997
c
802 neg 6 794
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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a. Exports are only for LAS as such; any LAS exported in detergent formulations is
not included.
b. About 90% of the LAS imports in 1985 were probably accounted for by LAS-
containing laundry detergent products imported from Canada. Imports in
subsequent years were of LAS itself.
c. Data includes United States and Canada.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
The value of the 1994 U.S. production of LAS is estimated at $305-325 million.
Since 1966, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has reported data on the production and
sales of alkylbenzene sulfonates. Data include linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acids and salts and branched
alkylbenzene sulfonic acids and salts (BAS). Production of the latter is estimated at 25-50 million pounds
in recent years. However, an analysis of the data suggests that the total production reported by the USITC
is probably well below actual production levels. Some of the known producers are not cited by the
USITC as having reported production of LAS during recent years. In addition, the level of production of
the LAS precursor, linear alkylbenzene (LAB), and the apparent consumption of LAS in household and
industrial detergents suggest that LAS production was considerably greater than reported by the USITC.
For example, the 1990 production figure reported by the USITC was only about 662 million pounds for
LAS and BAS combined, whereas the CEH estimate for that year is 906 million pounds for LAS alone.
The USITC data also provide a breakdown of U.S. production and sales of LAS and BAS by each salt,
which may reflect the relative production and sales of these salts. The 1993 data reported by the USITC
are listed in the following table:
Reported U.S. Production and Sales of Alkylbenzene Sulfonic Acid and Salts1993
a
(millions of pounds, 100% active basis)
Production Sales
Sodium Dodecylbenzenesulfonate 649.8 84.9
Dodecylbenzenesulfonic Acid 420.8 152.4
Triethanolamine Dodecylbenzenesulfonate 2.3 2.5
Calcium Dodecylbenzenesulfonate 5.1 8.2

a. Data are presented as reported in the source but are believed to be less than actual
production and sales levels. Also, dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid is all converted to its
salts, mainly sodium, so a great deal of double-counting is present in the data.
SOURCE: Synthetic Organic Chemicals, U.S. Production and Sales, U.S. International
Trade Commission.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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1998 by the Chemical Economics HandbookSRI International
1
10
100
1,000
1975 1980 1985 1990 1995
U.S. Supply/Demand for LAS
Production
Imports
Exports
10
100
1000
Millions of Pounds Thousands of Metric Tons
Following the large-scale introduction of LAS in the mid-1960s, its production increased as it replaced
the slower-to-biodegrade BAS, and the use of light-duty liquid detergents using LAS grew rapidly.
Production was relatively stable through the early 1970s, except for recessionary 1971 and 1975. During
1976, production of LAS recovered, and it steadily increased through 1978 in response to the growing
market for laundry liquids and nonphosphate laundry powders containing high LAS levels. Production
declined sharply in 1979-1982 as a result of several major laundry detergent reformulations in which LAS
levels were greatly reduced. Production generally increased during 1983-1990 following the introduction
of several household detergents with high LAS levels and strong growth in the household laundry liquid
market. However, the production of LAS declined again in 1991-1994 as a result of many detergent
reformulations that reduced the LAS content of these products. Indeed, the 1994 LAS production level
was the lowest since 1982. See the following section for a more detailed analysis of the issues that
account for these reformulations and the fluctuating demand for LAS by the detergent industry over the
last two decades.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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CONSUMPTION
About 85-90% of the U.S. consumption of LAS is in household detergents, including laundry detergents
(both powders and liquids), dishwashing detergents and various general-purpose household cleaners. The
balance of the LAS consumption is in industrial, institutional and commercial cleaners, as well as in a
number of diverse industrial applications, where its use is not related to its cleaning properties.
The following table provides a breakdown of U.S. consumption of LAS by end use:
>>U.S. Consumption of LAS by End Use<<
(millions of pounds)
Household Products
Heavy-Duty
Laundry
Powders
Heavy-Duty
Laundry
Liquids
Light-Duty
(Dishwashing)
Liquids
Miscellaneous
Household
Cleaners Other
a
Total
1975 356 75 101 27 70 629
1976 361 87 106 29 77 660
1977 365 99 107 29 76 676
1978 385 132 102 30 83 732
1979 386 133 100 30 71 720
1980 356 141 99 31 67 693
1981 315 91 91 31 95 623
1982 276 98 114 31 76 595
1983 264 101 122 32 102 621
1984 288 106 124 32 97 647
1985 305 150 121 32 96 704
1986 310 169 125 34 114 752
1987 317 208 132 36 111 804
1988 340 238 140 35 107 860
1989 371 244 123 30 84 852
1990 410 251 129 30 89 909
1991 370 233 127 30 100 860
1992 366 240 124 30 104 864
1993 288 279 102 26 100 795
1994 289 149 85 23 95 641
1995 294 141 82 22 83 622
1996 308 155 93 27 78 661
1997
b
356 201 110 28 99 794

a. Includes all nonhousehold uses (i.e., industrial, institutional and commercial uses) and may include pro-
ducer inventory adjustments.
b. Data includes United States and Canada.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
The following table presents estimates of the 1994 U.S. consumption of LAS by end use, the projected
consumption in 1999, and the average annual rates of change for the major categories of end use:
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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U.S. Consumption of LAS
(millions of pounds)
1994 1999
Average Annual
Growth Rate,
1994-1999
(percent)
Household Products
Heavy-Duty Laundry Powders 289 319 2
Heavy-Duty Laundry Liquids 148.5 121 4
Light-Duty Liquids 84.5 80.5 1
Miscellaneous Household Cleaners 18.5 19.5 1
Industrial, Institutional
and Commercial Applications
a
69.5 73 1
Total 610 613 0%

a. Category may include some inventory adjustments by LAS producers.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
The 1994 LAS consumption was 33% below the peak level in 1990. This drop largely reflected
reformulations that were unfavorable to LAS. The following sections present an analysis of each end-use
area.
Household Products
About 540 million pounds of LAS were consumed in U.S. household detergents in 1994, compared with
820 million pounds in the peak year of 1990. From the late 1960s, when it replaced BAS, until 1993,
LAS was the largest-volume surfactant consumed in household detergents. In 1994, however, alcohol
ether sulfates (AES) replaced LAS as the largest-volume anionic surfactants used in household detergents.
The issues that led to this decline in LAS usage are described in considerable detail in the subsequent
sections on the various household detergent types. Nevertheless, LAS remains a major surfactant in
household detergents.
Most synthetic detergent formulations are fairly complex mixtures, and manufacturers have developed
considerable sophistication in varying the contents to achieve the desired performance at the lowest
possible cost. The choice of which surfactant to employ is based on the advertising claims the
manufacturer wishes to make for a product and on cost/performance considerations that depend upon its
performance in the formulated product and the ease of processing of the surfactant in combination with
other ingredients in the formulation. The characteristics that have contributed to the widespread use of
LAS include the following: excellent surfactant properties, low cost relative to alternative surfactants,
ease of processing into nonhydrous powders when spray-dried, favorable solubility characteristics for use
in liquid formulations, compatibility with other surface-active agents used in mixed-actives systems,
medium to high sudsing characteristics in formulations, and long-accepted biodegradability and favorable
performance under toxicological scrutiny.
The dominant U.S. producers of household detergents (and consequently the largest U.S. consumers of
LAS) are The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G), Lever Brothers Company, Colgate-Palmolive
Company, The Dial Corp. (producer of Purex

products), Huish Chemical Company, and Church &


Dwight Co., Inc. (Arm & Hammer

products). Smaller household detergent producers using LAS


February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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include DeSoto, Inc.; Amway Corporation; Astor Products; the Consumer Products Division of Dow
Chemical U.S.A.; Kleenbrite Laboratories Inc.; and USA Detergents, Incorporated.
The major manufacturers of household products produce and captively consume LAS, although some of
these manufacturers also purchase additional quantities of LAS from merchant suppliers. The latter
transactions usually reflect the capacity limitations of some manufacturers for producing LAS using the
SO
3
-air process, which is preferred for making LAS that is subsequently used in liquid products (see the
MANUFACTURING PROCESSES section of this report). Many smaller detergent producers purchase
all of their LAS from merchant suppliers.
The major household product categories consuming large volumes of LAS are heavy-duty laundry
powders, heavy-duty laundry liquids and light-duty dishwashing liquids. (See the CEH Surfactants,
Household Detergents and Their Raw Materials marketing research report for a discussion of the
formulation of these products.) Smaller volumes of LAS are also consumed in a variety of general-
purpose household cleaners.
The individual household detergent categories and their consumption of LAS are discussed in the
following sections.
Heavy-duty laundry detergents (powders and liquids)
U.S. consumption of LAS in household laundry detergents amounted to about 438 million pounds in
1994. This represents a decline of almost 130 million pounds since 1993, all of which is accounted for by
the removal of LAS from the laundry liquids of P&G. This formulation change no doubt reflected a
number of considerations, one of which was a recognition of the tendency of high levels of LAS to
deactivate enzymes in liquid systems. This and other issues are discussed later in this section. Future
growth for LAS depends upon both the growth and the composition (e.g., powders vs. liquids) of the U.S.
laundry market and on the competition between LAS and other surfactants. The future design of new
energy-efficient washing machines will also have a big impact, but this will likely have no significant
effect until the year 2000.
The U.S. market includes both powder and liquid laundry products, with the liquids accounting for almost
40% on a poundage basis. This contrasts sharply with other world areas, where liquids account for only a
very small share. There has been very little growth in the U.S. consumption of laundry powders since
1979; however, the volume of liquid laundry detergents consumed tripled between 1979 and 1988. This
growth was greatly slowed by the introduction of compact laundry powders in 1991, but this may change
as the concentrated liquid laundry detergents, which were widely introduced in 1993, become more
popular. Furthermore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering new, lower
energy consumption guidelines for future washing machines that are expected to reach the market in the
next century. Since these machines must use less hot water, most industry sources believe they will
probably require liquid detergents to effect a rapid and complete solution. The growing sales of laundry
liquids were once a welcome development to LAB and LAS producers, since the surfactant levels,
including those of LAS, were considerably higher in the liquids than in the powders. Overall surfactant
levels continue to be higher in liquids, but since the P&G reformulations previously mentioned, the
average level of LAS is now lower in liquids than in powders. Thus, any future growth for liquids at the
expense of powders will no longer benefit LAS. Furthermore, the low-energy-consuming machines will
also require high agitation, which will require low-foaming surfactants. LAS is a high- to medium-
foaming surfactant, and its use level might be limited in the new machines, although various defoaming
ingredients might be used to overcome this problem.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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The U.S. laundry market is expected to grow at an average annual rate of about 2.3% (washload basis)
over the 1994-1999 period. During the 1980s, the overall growth in the U.S. market for laundry
detergents (powders and liquids) was much larger and greater than the estimates of many industry
sources. The lower estimates were based largely on annual sales estimates provided by national surveys
that were in turn based on sales of detergents in supermarkets. These sales surveys often neglect the
increasing sales of laundry and other household products by mass merchandisers or warehouse
consumer outlets. Since these outlets generally offer only a few brands at greatly reduced prices,
detergent manufacturers must offer the lowest possible prices to secure shelf space at these outlets. This
development has caused major restructuring in the detergent industry and intensified manufacturers
efforts to reduce formulation costs.
Thus, one of the most important considerations in the future consumption of LAS in home laundry
products is the relative price for LAS compared with prices for the alcohol-based surfactants. LAS is
derived from benzene and n-paraffins, both of which are in turn derived from petroleum. Petroleum
prices declined significantly in 1986 and have remained relatively low since then, leading to
comparatively low and reasonably stable prices for benzene and n-paraffins. In contrast, the alcohol-
based surfactants are produced largely from ethylene, which is derived mainly from natural gas liquids in
the United States. Prices for ethylene have been more volatile in recent years. Indeed, ethylene and
ethylene oxide prices increased sharply in 1987-1989, reflecting strong demand for ethylene in plastics
and other markets, along with a shortage in ethylene capacity. Prices for these products subsequently
declined in recessionary 1990-1992, but rose again in 1994 and 1995 as the U.S. economy grew strongly.
Prices for ethylene declined somewhat in late 1995, but prices for ethylene oxide, which is used to make
the alcohol ethoxylates (AE) and alcohol ether sulfates (AES), are expected to remain strong for some
time. Although ethylene prices will continue to cycle in the future, both LAS and the alcohol-based
surfactants are expected to remain highly competitive on a cost/performance basis for the foreseeable
future.
On relative performance, AE has lower hard-water sensitivity than LAS, a consideration that is especially
important in liquid laundry detergents, all of which lack an effective builder (i.e., a sequestrant for hard
water ions). However, LAS is more readily processed into powders than AE. LAS is generally
considered more effective than AE on heavy particulate soils (e.g., clays), whereas AE is more effective
on body oil stains. Consequently, most manufacturers prefer to use a combination of both to obtain the
optimum performance for average washing conditions. Overall, these performance considerations
suggest that LAS will continue to be a cost-effective surfactant, especially in powders where its
processing characteristics are an advantage and where it has no adverse impact on enzyme stability.
LAS is also higher foaming than AE, which some consumers perceive as providing better cleaning.
However, high foaming is a disadvantage in horizontal axis, rotating drum washers, where high foam
levels would result in overflow problems. This property could be a major disadvantage for LAS in the
new low-energy washing machines, which could use this design or another that will likely require high
agitation. Some sources believe that defoamers can control this effect, but it is still likely to be a
disadvantage for LAS. The ultimate impact of this future development is uncertain, but it should not have
any significant impact until after the year 2000.
A third consideration in assessing the future growth of LAS is the degree to which enzymes are used in
liquid detergents. Certain enzymes assist the action of surfactants by promoting the hydrolysis of protein
and starch stains. Others contribute to preserving the appearance of cotton fabrics after repeated washing.
Some detergent manufacturers are not convinced that the high costs of enzymes are justified and believe
consumers are unaware of any improved performance they might contribute. However, the two largest
detergent manufacturers (P&G and Lever Bothers) do use them. Anionic surfactants in solution are
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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known to inactivate enzymes over time, but the adverse impact of LAS is greater than with other anionics.
As the level and complexity of the enzyme systems used has increased, this problem has become more
apparent. Although enzyme and LAB manufacturers have sought a solution, none is known at this time.
P&Gs reformulation partly reflected this problem, but also the economic advantage of using its captive
production capability for methyl esters of fatty acids at its plant in Malaysia. These esters are a key raw
material for making the N-alkylglucosamide (AGA) and AES surfactants that replaced the LAS content of
P&Gs liquid laundry detergents. There could be further large reductions in LAS if Lever Brothers also
reduced the LAS level in its liquid products. However, Lever Brothers lacks the captive raw material
position of P&G and would not have the same economic advantage in reformulating its liquids. Thus, all
manufacturers of liquid laundry detergents using LAS and enzymes must carefully balance the benefits of
each and determine what their optimum levels are. Although LAS is vulnerable to replacement by other
surfactants in laundry liquids incorporating enzymes, a precipitous decline in LAS consumption in these
products seems unlikely.
A final consideration is the threat to LAS posed by environmental concerns, including concerns about the
tetralin content of the raw material, LAB; the nonbiodegradability of LAS under anaerobic conditions;
and its derivation from nonnatural (i.e., petroleum) sources, which are not renewable. LAB
manufacturers have already reduced the tetralin content of LAB to 1% or less in nearly all of the product
sold to the major manufacturers and have provided evidence of the rapid biodegradability of the tetralins
that remain. Although LAS is not biodegradable under anaerobic conditions, this is also true of several
other surfactants commonly used, as well as many other chemicals. Furthermore, only a small percentage
of the LAS in the environment is finally destined for anaerobic conditions; LAS is largely disposed of in
sewage treatment plants under aerobic conditions. Most sources agree that the large-scale use of LAS for
over 25 years without any observed problem is the best evidence of its apparent safety.
The issue of the preferability of natural and renewable raw material sources has been extensively
debated. It is widely recognized that even surfactants based on natural (i.e., vegetable) sources require
subsequent chemical processing that blurs any distinction between natural and synthetic products.
Indeed, one life-cycle analysis study showed that the manufacture of a naturally derived surfactant (an
alpha-sulfo methyl coconut fatty acid ester) had a more adverse impact on the environment than the
production of LAS. Unless future studies produce different results, this issue has only an emotional
appeal, rather than one that is based on strong environmental evidence.
The use of LAS in laundry powders should increase with market growth of the product over the 1994-
1999 period. The consumption of LAS in liquid laundry products will decrease somewhat over the same
period as a result of the enzyme compatibility problems previously described. Overall, LAS consumption
in laundry detergents will be flat over the 1994-1999 period.
Historical LAS consumption patterns
Historically, the U.S. consumption of LAS in laundry detergents grew rapidly in the late 1960s, as it
quickly replaced the less readily biodegradable BAS in these products. By 1969, this substitution was
complete, and consumption of LAS grew more slowly, until it increased dramatically in the late 1970s as
a result of two major developments. The first was the rapid growth in the use of laundry liquids (which
generally use higher surfactant levels than do powders). The second was the major reduction in the
phosphate levels of detergents, which initially required higher surfactant levels to maintain acceptable
performance. The phosphate reduction reflected both the higher cost of phosphates and government
restrictions on their use in certain regions of the country. LAS was the surfactant of choice for most
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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producers in the late 1970s, and the volume of its consumption in laundry detergents reached a level of
519 million pounds in 1979.
When raw material costs began to rise as a result of the second world oil crisis in 1979, detergent
manufacturers began to reduce the cost of their detergent formulations by lowering the level of LAS and
using more of the alcohol-based surfactants. The price of ethylene (from which the alcohol-based
surfactants are largely derived) had not risen as rapidly as n-paraffins and benzene (from which LAS is
derived and which are tied directly to crude oil prices). As a result, the consumption of LAS in laundry
products fell to only 365 million pounds in 1983 or 154 million pounds below the prior peak level in
1979.
Consumption of LAS increased significantly in the mid-1980s as a result of lower crude oil prices and the
successful introduction of several new laundry products containing high levels of LAS, including P&Gs
Liquid Tide

and Lever Brothers Surf

laundry powder. Consumption continued to increase in the late


1980s as a result of the growth in demand for laundry liquids and the subsequent introduction of compact
laundry powders that detergent manufacturers initially found easier to make from LAS than from other
surfactants. Thus, both production and consumption of LAS set new record levels in 1988 and again in
1990. Consumption declined during the 1991-1994 period as previously described.
Light-duty liquid detergents
Nearly 85 million pounds of LAS were consumed in light-duty liquid detergents in 1994. These products
are designed primarily for hand-washing of dinnerware and, to a far lesser extent, for hand-laundering of
fine fabrics and hosiery. Most light-duty detergents use LAS in combination with lower levels of alcohol
ether sulfates (AES) and fatty alkanolamides (FAA). Alternatively, Procter & Gamble has consistently
used higher levels of AES, in combination with other surfactants (e.g., alcohol sulfates, fatty amine
oxides, amphoterics, and n-alkylglucosamides), and not used any LAS in its dishwashing liquids. This
approach may be too expensive for other producers, but Procter & Gamble has an economic advantage,
since it has a basic position in fatty amine oxides and also in detergent alcohols, from which AES is
derived.
The sales of the light-duty liquids have shown very little growth over the last ten years. The main reason
has been the increasing use of automatic dishwashers, which use a different type of detergent. Automatic
dishwashing detergents are based largely on inorganic builders (e.g., phosphates and silicates) and use
only very low levels of specialty organic surfactants.
From 1982 through 1992, the consumption of LAS in light-duty detergents had been fairly stable.
However, consumption fell sharply in 1993 and 1994, as several large manufacturers increased the use of
milder surfactants, such as AES, alkylpolyglucosides (APG), and amphoterics, and lowered their LAS
levels. As prices of some of these milder surfactants, especially AES, began to increase in 1994 and
1995, some detergent producers may switch back to LAS. However, Lever Brothers reportedly began
using alpha-sulfo methyl esters in its dishwashing liquids, and this reformulation may further lower the
levels of LAS. Alcohol ethoxylates and alkylphenol ethoxylates cannot be employed in these products at
significant levels because of the high level of skin irritation that would result from their use. Thus,
detergent producers had fewer formulation options in hand-dishwashing liquids than in laundry
detergents. Until 1993, therefore, the consumption of LAS in this market tended to reflect the growth in
the overall use of dishwashing liquids and the market share of the light-duty detergents that use the
LAS/AES/FAA formulation. This distribution had been more affected by the success of the advertising
promotions of the major producers than by any raw material cost considerations.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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The greater emphasis on mildness that began in the 1990s led to the use of amphoterics and other mild
cosurfactants, and this approach may become more common in the future as manufacturers seek to
promote greater mildness as a product attribute. This trend will probably further reduce future LAS
consumption in this market. However, LAS still has a significant cost advantage over most alternative
surfactants. Thus, the consumption of LAS in dishwashing liquids is likely to decline only slightly, at an
average annual rate of 1% over the 1994-1999 period. This projection reflects the expectation of little
growth in the sales of the light-duty liquids and some product reformulations that are disadvantageous to
LAS. The reformulations are likely to involve the greater use of milder surfactants in place of LAS.
Miscellaneous household cleaners
LAS is frequently present at low levels in numerous household cleaners. Inorganic salts and solvents are
usually the major ingredients, and other surfactants are often used instead of LAS. Examples of the
product categories and brand names that may contain LAS include floor cleaning powders (e.g., Spic and
Span

) and heavy-duty hard-surface cleansers (e.g., Mr. Clean

).
Small amounts of LAS may be used in several other household cleaning products. According to industry
sources, specialty products such as some floor cleaners and laundry presoaks and prespotters annually
consume small amounts of LAS.
An estimated 18.5 million pounds of LAS were consumed in these products in 1994. There will probably
be a 1.5% average annual growth rate for these products and a 1.0% average annual growth in the LAS
consumed in them for the 1994-1999 period.
Industrial, Institutional and Commercial Applications
In 1994, almost 70 million pounds of LAS were consumed in nonhousehold markets, mainly industrial,
institutional and commercial products and processes. This estimate reflects the difference between
estimates of the total volume of LAS consumption and the volume consumed in household uses. As such,
it can include some changes in customer inventories of LAS (both household and nonhousehold) and may
be subject to a much larger error than the other categories described. Thus, the reader should exercise
some caution in interpreting the significance of changes in the consumption estimates for this category
over time.
Since nonhousehold markets for LAS are numerous and widely dispersed through industrial, institutional
and commercial establishments, they are difficult to quantify. This category includes nonhousehold
markets in which LAS is used in formulated cleaning products. Examples include commercial laundries,
commercial and institutional restaurants using formulated hand-dishwashing liquids, janitorial cleaners
used for offices and institutions, and transportation vehicle washing establishments. This category also
includes applications where the performance properties of LAS other than its basic detergency are
important (e.g., emulsification of agricultural herbicides or of monomers in polymer processing).
Although some developmental research on the use of LAS in tertiary oil recovery operations was
conducted (especially in 1981, when 3-5 million pounds were consumed in this use), it is unlikely that
any significant quantities of LAS have recently been or will be consumed in this application because of its
higher cost compared with that of petroleum sulfonates and the outlook for continued low crude oil
prices.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Other small or potential applications of LAS include sludge dispersion and its use in construction wall-
board.
Growth in the consumption of LAS in all nonhousehold applications is expected to increase at an average
annual rate of 1% over the 1994-1999 period.
PRICE
Market prices for LAS have declined significantly during the 1991-1995 period. Average prices for
large-volume purchases are well below list prices, and are probably in the $0.50-0.55 per-pound (100%
active basis) range.
The following table presents typical list price histories for linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acids and salts:
>>U.S. List Prices for Linear Alkylbenzene
Sulfonic Acid and Salts
a
<<
(cents per pound)
Acid
b
Sodium Salt
c
Triethanolamine
Salt
d
1966 15.0 13.2 18.5
1967 15.0 13.2 18.5
1968 15.0 13.2 18.5
1969 12.0 12.0 18.5
1970 12.0 12.0 18.5
1971 13.0 13.0 15.3
1972 -- -- --
1973 15.5 15.5 17.0
1974 29.0 30.0 30.0
1975 29.5 29.5 31.0
1976 31.0 31.0 32.5
1977 32.0 32.0 32.5
1978 34.0 34.0 33.5
1979 43.0 43.0 39.5
1980 51.0 51.0 44.5
1981 54.0 54.0 45.0
1982 52.0 52.0 44.5
1983 53.0 53.0 43.0
1984 57.0 57.0 45.0
1985 57.0 57.0 45.0
1986 57.0 57.0 45.0
1987 60.5 60.5 49.0
1988 60.5 60.5 49.0
1989 65.5 65.5 57.5
1990 69.5 69.5 61.5
1991 70.5 70.5 63.0
1992 70.5 70.5 63.0
1993 73.5 73.5 64.5
1994 73.5 73.5 64.5
1995 73.5 73.5 64.5
1996 79.5 78.0 68.5
1997r 84.0 80.5 71
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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1998
e
86.5 83 72.5

a. Prices shown through 1971 and for 1977-1995 are list prices
on or about July 1 of the year indicated; data for 1973-1975
represent list prices as of December. The 1976 list prices
became effective October 1, 1976.
b. 96-97% active basis.
c. 100% active basis.
d. 60% active basis.
e. 60% active basis.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
Since 1966, the U.S. International Trade Commission has reported unit sales value data (i.e., average
sales value) for sodium, calcium and triethanolamine dodecylbenzene sulfonates. These values include
both the branched (BAS) and linear (LAS) products. Since 1971, linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acid and
salts are estimated to have accounted for over 90% of the total volume of sulfonates used to calculate
these unit sales value data. The reported value of the sulfonic acid appears to be far below realistic
averages in recent years, and the reported value of the sodium salt appears to be much higher than likely
for 1993. These data are listed in the following table:
U.S. Unit Sales Values for Alkylbenzene Sulfonates
a
(cents per pound)
Dodecylbenzenesulfonates Total
Alkylbenzene
Acid Sodium Calcium Triethanolamine Sulfonates
b
1966 -- 14 38 25 16
1967 -- 16 38 27 17
1968 -- 17 30 26 17
1969 -- 19 34 25 20
1970 -- 13 37 21 14
1971 -- 16 42 21 17
1972 -- 17 43 22 19
1973 -- 16 46 -- 15
1974 -- 26 64 22 27
1975 -- 32 77 28 34
1976 -- 33 73 41 36
1977 30 31 74 40 36
1978 31 27 76 42 35
1979 37 32 86 45 42
1980 45 39 91 56 49
1981 46 50 91 60 53
1982 43 37 75 60 44
1983 44 47 99 57 48
1984 46 50 98 56 50
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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U.S. Unit Sales Values for Alkylbenzene Sulfonates
a
(continued)
(cents per pound)
Dodecylbenzenesulfonates Total
Alkylbenzene
Acid Sodium Calcium Triethanolamine Sulfonates
b
1985 46 54 102 58 52
1986 46 67 94 58 56
1987 47 66 109 59 57
1988 49 65 125 55 57
1989 53 60 145 59 59
1990 35
c
69 111 82 46
1991 36
c
74
c
142 80 46
1992 32
c
69
c
164 81 42
1993 28.5
c
81
c
181 64 na

a. Calculated from rounded figures on the basis of 100% organic surface-active
ingredient. However, the reported values may be inaccurate in many years, as they
often exceed the list prices for the same year as shown in the preceding table.
b. Includes alkylbenzene sulfonic acid, the three salts listed and all other salts.
c. Reported values are believed to be inaccurate.
SOURCE: Synthetic Organic Chemicals, U.S. Production and Sales, U.S.
International Trade Commission.
During the 1970s, price increases for LAS generally reflected higher raw material (i.e., LAB) prices due
to either the energy shocks (1974 and 1979) or increasing demand for both LAB and LAS (1976-1979).
Actual market prices declined slightly in 1982-1983, reflecting stable or declining world oil prices and
reduced demand for LAS. Market prices increased again in 1984 and throughout the late 1980s as
demand for LAS increased, but dropped sharply over the 1990-1995 period.
Most large-volume sales of LAS are as the sulfonic acid, large volumes of which are toll-manufactured by
sulfonators. In these arrangements, the detergent customer acquires the LAB raw material and has it
delivered to the sulfonators plant for conversion to LAS.
TRADE
LAS is not a significant item of international trade. Most LAS produced in the United States is consumed
domestically, as are most of the finished detergent formulations. Imports of LAS are estimated to have
been only about 5-10 million pounds annually in recent years. Imports arriving by ship amounted to less
than 5 million pounds in 1994.
Exports of all alkylbenzene sulfonic acids (linear and nonlinear) were reported under export code
# 554.4000 (U.S. Exports, Schedule E, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census) until 1988.
Exports by ship amounted to less than 6 million pounds in 1994, most of which was as the calcium salt,
probably for lubricant applications. The 1994 data could also include some nonlinear alkylbenzene
sulfonates. The data exclude rail or truck shipments to Canada or Mexico. U.S. exports to these other
North American countries is thought to be only a few million pounds.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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CANADA
The following table lists Canadian producers of linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acid by sulfonation of
alkylbenzene:
Canadian Producers of LAS
Company and
Plant Location
Annual Capacity
as of September 1995
a
(thousands of metric tons)
Sulfonation
Process Products
Lever Brothers Limited
Toronto, Ontario 16 na Sodium salt
Procter & Gamble Inc.
Hamilton, Ontario 16 na Sodium salt
Stepan Canada Inc.
Longford Mills, Ontario 18 SO
3
-air Acid and sodium salt
Witco Canada Inc.
Oakville, Ontario 13 SO
3
-air Acid and sodium salt
Total 63

a. Theoretical capacity, if production were solely devoted to 100% active linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acid.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
Canadian production of LAS is estimated at about 33 thousand metric tons in 1994. Imports and exports
are thought to be relatively small. The great majority of LAS produced in Canada is consumed in
household laundry and dishwashing detergents in a manner similar to that described in the U.S. section of
this report.
MEXICO
The following table lists Mexican producers of linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acid by sulfonation of
alkylbenzene:
Mexican Producers of LAS
Company and
Plant Location
Annual Capacity
as of December 1995
a
(thousands of metric tons)
Sulfonation
Process
La Carona
Mexico, D.F. 32 SO
3
-air
Colgate-Palmolive S.A. de C.V.
Celaya, Guanajato 32 SO
3
-air
Nobleza
Mexico, D.F. na SO
3
-air
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Mexican Producers of LAS (continued)
Company and
Plant Location
Annual Capacity
as of December 1995
a
(thousands of metric tons)
Sulfonation
Process
Procter & Gamble de Mexico, S.A.
de C.V.
Celaya, Guanajato 136 SO
3
-air
Quimica Hoechst de Mexico, S.A.
de C.V.
Ecatepec, Mexico 4 SO
3
-air
Sanchez & Martin S.A.
Guadalajara, Jalisco na SO
3
-air
Sasil
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon 12 Oleum
Stepan Mexico S.A. de C.V. 6 SO
3
-air
Matamoros, Tamaulipas
Union Quimica
Mexico, D.F. na Oleum
Querataro, Guanajato 15 SO
3
-air
Total >237

a. Theoretical capacity, if production were solely devoted to 100% active linear
alkylbenzene sulfonic acid.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
Mexican production and consumption of LAS is estimated at 205 thousand metric tons in 1994.
WESTERN EUROPE
PRODUCING COMPANIES
In Western Europe, the large multinational detergent manufacturers are the major producers of linear
alkylbenzene sulfonic acid and its salts. They captively consume nearly all of the production of LAS in
formulated detergent products for household and industrial applications and use both oleum and the SO
3
-
air processes. In addition, many other producers of LAS sell to the merchant market; however, some of
these also consume part of their LAS production captively or for the production of formulated products.
Nearly all of the producers for the merchant market use the SO
3
-air process.
The following table lists the major Western European producers of LAS, with estimates of their sulfona-
tion capacity. It does not list the individual capacities of all of the major detergent manufacturers, some
of whose capacities are unknown. However, an estimate of the total sulfonation capacity of the unlisted
detergent manufacturers using SO
3
-air is included in the total under Other. The sulfonation capacities
shown are not devoted solely to LAS, since the same facilities are often used for production of alcohol
sulfates and alcohol ether sulfates.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Western European Producers of LAS
Company and
Plant Location
Annual Capacity
as of December 1995
a
(thousands of metric tons)
Austria
Henkel Austria Ges.mbH
Wien 10
Belgium
Hickson Manro S.A.
Ougree 25
Denmark
Aarhus Oliefabrik A/S
Aarhus 3
Unilever Danmark A/S
Glostrup na
France
Albright & Wilson Saint-
Mihiel SA
Han sur Meuse 30
Chimiotechnic SA
Venissieux 20
Henkel France S.A.
Pontivy
Reims
}
25
Procter & Gamble France SA
Neuilly sur Seine na
SEPPIC
Castres 3
Societe des Produits Chimiques
du Sidobre-Sinnova S.A.
(100% owned by Henkel
France S.A.)
Meaux 20
Unilever France SA
Houburdin 30
Witco S.A.
Saint Pierre les Elbeuf 25
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Western European Producers of LAS (continued)
Company and
Plant Location
Annual Capacity
as of December 1995
a
(thousands of metric tons)
Germany
Akzo Nobel Chemicals GmbH
Dueren 10
BASF Aktiengesellschaft
Ludwigshafen 15
Chemische Fabrik Chem-Y GmbH
(100% owned by Kao Corporation)
Emmerich 25
Deutsche Shell AG
Koeln-Godorf 20
Deutsche Unilever GmbH
Mannheim 20
Henkel KGaA
Duesseldorf 90
Hoechst Aktiengesellschaft
Burgkirchen 15
Huels Aktiengesellschaft
Marl 115
Witco Surfactants GmbH
(formerly known as Rewo
Chemische Werke GmbH)
Steinau 5
Zschimmer & Schwarz GmbH
& Co., Chemische Fabriken
Lahnstein 4
Italy
Albright & Wilson Castiglione Srl
Castiglione delle Stiviere 40
Albright & Wilson Patrica Srl
Patrica 30
Annunziata SpA
Ceccano 20
Auschem SpA
Seriate na
D.A.C. Industrie Chimiche SpA
Terranova dei Passerini 40
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Western European Producers of LAS (continued)
Company and
Plant Location
Annual Capacity
as of December 1995
a
(thousands of metric tons)
Italy (continued)
Henkel S.p.A.
Ferentino
Fino-Mornasco
}
30
Lamberti SpA
Albizzate na
IBLA S.p.A.
Ragusa 18
Mirachem Srl
(formerly known as Panigal
Saponerie Italiane SpA)
Calderara 15
Mira Lanza SpA
Calderara na
Procter & Gamble Italia S.p.A.
Pomezia 20
Unil-It SpA
(100% owned by Unilever NV
[Netherlands])
Casalpusterlengo 30
Zschimmer & Schwarz Italiana SpA
Tricerro 6
Netherlands
Servo Delden BV
(100% owned by Huels
Aktiengesellschaft [Germany])
Delden 5
Norway
Unger Fabrikker A.S
Fredrikstad 35
Portugal
Shell Portuguesa SA
(formerly Espequimica)
Lisboa 20
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Western European Producers of LAS (continued)
Company and
Plant Location
Annual Capacity
as of December 1995
a
(thousands of metric tons)
Spain
Henkel Iberica, SA
Montornes del Valles 15
Hoechst Iberica, S.A.
Vilaseca 8
Kao Corporation S.A.
Olesa de Montserrat 10
Lipoquimicas Reunidas, SA
Zaragoza 3
Marchon Espanola, SA
(division of Albright & Wilson)
Alcover 20
Petroquimica Espanola, SA
San Roque 25
Pulcra, s.a.
(100% owned by Henkel
Iberica, SA)
Barcelona 15
United Kingdom
Akcros Chemicals
Eccles 10
Albright & Wilson Ltd.
Surfactants Business
Whitehaven 50
Hickson Manro Ltd.
Stalybridge 55
Unilever PLC
Port Sunlight 25
Witco Surfactants
(formerly known as Rewo
Chemicals Ltd.)
Maryport 5
Other
b
240-340
Total >1,300-1,400

a. Theoretical capacity, if production were solely devoted to
100% active linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acid. Sulfonation
capacities are not devoted solely to LAS.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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b. Smaller producers and detergent manufacturers are located in
most of the Western European countries listed above.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
The following table summarizes the Western European LAS capacities of the major groups of chemical
producers:
Western European Producers of LAS by Company Group
Company Group
Annual Capacity
as of December 1995
(thousands of metric tons)
Major Detergent Manufacturers
a
220
Henkel Group 205
Albright & Wilson Group 170
Huels Group 120
Hickson Manro Group 80
Shell Group 40
Unger Fabrikker A/S 35
Witco Group 35
Hoechst Group 23
Other >372-472
Total >1,300-1,400

a. Includes the Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive
groups; the Henkel Group is also a major manufacturer, but its
production capacity is shown separately.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
The industry is likely to undergo some consolidation in the near future. Thus, some smaller and/or older
sulfonation capacities will probably be closed or change ownership. At present, there is adequate sulfona-
tion/sulfation capacity in Western Europe to produce all of the products that require this process.
SALIENT STATISTICS
The Western European supply/demand balance for LAS in recent years is shown in the following table:
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Western European Supply/Demand for LAS
(thousands of metric tons)
Production Imports Exports
a
Apparent
Consumption
1981 487 neg 53 434
1982 460 neg 27 433
1983 460 neg 25 435
1984 465 neg 20 445
1985 466 neg 20 446
1986 463 neg 33 430
1987 485 neg 35 450
1988 495 neg 35 460
1989 528 neg 45 483
1990 510 neg 35 475
1991 502 neg 35 467
1992 488 neg 30 458
1993 458 neg 30 428
1994 439 neg 30 409
1995 433 neg 30 403
1999 396 neg 30 366

a. May include some LAS in formulated detergent products.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
The data illustrate a relatively stable Western European production of LAS during the 1982-1986 period,
increased production during 1987-1989, and then declining production over the 1990-1995 period. See
the CONSUMPTION section for a discussion of the trends in recent years.
The sodium salt of the sulfonic acid accounted for 95-96% of the total Western European consumption of
LAS. The calcium salt, which is used as an emulsifier in pesticide formulations, accounted for most of
the balance. All the other salts (e.g., triethanolamine, isopropanolamine) represent only a tiny percentage
of total LAS consumption. The merchant market sales of the sodium salt of LAS as an intermediate are
declining due to its replacement by the free acid, which is cheaper to transport and is ultimately converted
largely to the sodium salt by detergent producers.
CONSUMPTION
LAS is still the largest-volume anionic surfactant (excluding natural soaps) used in Western Europe. In
the 1980s, its consumption increased at a rate of only about 1% per year, with a peak in 1989 of 483
thousand metric tons. Since then, consumption has declined continously due to the shift to fatty alcohol
based products, such as AS and AES. The following table presents Western European consumption of
LAS by end use in recent years:
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Western European Consumption of LAS by End Use
(thousands of metric tons)
Heavy-Duty
Laundry
Powders
Heavy-Duty
Laundry
Liquids
Light-Duty
Dishwashing
Liquids
Industrial,
Institutional and
Commercial
Applications
a
Total
1982 252 1 107 73 433
1983 249 1 110 75 435
1984 250 1 114 80 445
1985 249 1 118 78 446
1986 215 20 115 80 430
1987 206 37 120 87 450
1988 200 45 130 85 460
1989 198 68 130 87 483
1990 205 55 128 87 475
1991 210 50 115 92 467
1992 207 47 113 91 458
1993 190 45 103 90 428
1994 190 44 85 90 409
1995 187 43 82 91 403
1999 163 38 70 95 366

a. Includes other household cleaners and industrial, institutional and commercial uses of LAS.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
The following table presents estimates of the 1991 and 1994 consumption of LAS by end use, the
projected consumption in 1999 and the average annual growth rates:
Western European Consumption of LAS
(thousands of metric tons)
1991 1994 1999
Average Annual
Growth Rate,
1994-1999
(percent)
Heavy-Duty Laundry Powders 210 190 163 3
Heavy-Duty Laundry Liquids 50 44 38 3
Light-Duty Dishwashing Liquids 115 85 70 4
Other Household Cleaners 20 19 20 1
Other
a
72 71 75 1
Total 467 409 366 2%

a. Includes all industrial, institutional and commercial uses of LAS.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Household Products
Heavy-duty laundry powders
An estimated 3.2 million metric tons of household laundry powders (this estimate may include some
industrial and institutional heavy-duty laundry powders) were consumed in Western Europe in 1993.
This estimate includes both compact (i.e., concentrated and ultra) powders and regular laundry
powders. The great majority of the regular powders are of the low-foam type that typically contain a
combination of LAS, soap and alcohol ethoxylates. The total surfactant level is normally in the 11-15%
range, and the average LAS level is 5% to 6%. Some compact powders may still contain an average LAS
level of 6-8%. However, several major brands, such as Henkels Persil Mega Pearls

and P&Gs Ariel

Futur, are believed to contain virtually only alcohol sulfates (AS).


An estimated 190 thousand metric tons of LAS were consumed in laundry powders in Western Europe in
1994. Future changes in the technology for making detergents (e.g., the greater use of extruders and
agglomeration, instead of spray-dry towers) may favor the use of AS instead of LAS because of the
formers better crystallization properties. Using a conservative forecast, LAS consumption in laundry
powders is expected to decline 3% per year from 1994 through 1999, reducing its consumption in these
products to 163 thousand metric tons.
Heavy-duty laundry liquids
Heavy-duty laundry liquids were first introduced on a commercial scale in Western Europe in the early
1980s. Major products have now been established in most countries, and the total 1994 Western Euro-
pean consumption of laundry liquids is estimated at 550 thousand metric tons. Overall, the liquid
products probably account for 15-17% of the total Western European laundry detergent market. The 1994
market shares of liquid products are estimated at 6% in Germany and 20% in the United Kingdom.
Concentrated laundry liquids were introduced into the UK market in 1994.
Most of the nonconcentrated heavy-duty liquid detergents contain alcohol ethoxylates, LAS and soap at a
total surfactant level of 35-45% and an average LAS content of about 10-13%. Newer types of heavy-
duty liquid detergents often contain little or no LAS. Thus, LAS consumption in this application is
expected to decrease from 44 thousand metric tons in 1994 to 38 thousand metric tons in 1999.
Light-duty dishwashing liquids
The Western European consumption of light-duty (dishwashing) liquids in 1993 is estimated at 1.1
million metric tons. The market for these products grew rapidly during the 1970s and early 1980s.
However, the market is now saturated in most of the major countries, and demand growth has slowed.
The composition of light-duty dishwashing liquids differs widely, with the surfactant content ranging
from 10% to 40%, although most of the products have a 20-30% surfactant level. The principal
surfactants used in normal dishwashing liquids are LAS, AES and secondary alkane sulfonates (SAS or
paraffin sulfonates). The 1994 Western European consumption of LAS in this application is estimated at
85 thousand metric tons. In recent years, usage of AES and betaines has been increasing at the expense of
LAS in dishwashing liquids, and this trend has reduced the consumption of LAS in this application. New,
concentrated light-duty liquids (e.g., P&Gs Fairy

Ultra) were introduced, but many of these products


February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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contain little or no LAS. Thus, the overall consumption of LAS in this application is expected to decline
at an average annual rate of 4% over the 1994-1999 period.
Other household cleaners
This category includes a large number of household products that differ widely in their formulations;
some do not contain LAS, while others may use up to 5% LAS. Consequently, this area is difficult to
assess in terms of the volume of LAS consumed. This category also includes the older dishwashing
powders that have largely been replaced by dishwashing liquids. In recent years, there has been good
growth in sales of some of the small-volume specialty cleaner products, including several types
employing LAS. Nevertheless, only a very small growth of LAS consumption in this category is likely.
Industrial, Institutional and Commercial Applications
LAS is used in industrial cleaners (e.g., for metals and textiles), in emulsifiers (e.g., for agricultural
herbicides and in polymer processing) and as a wetting agent. It is also used in many products sold to
commercial laundries and hotels, as well as institutions (e.g., hospitals and schools), and these products
often resemble the household formulations for laundry, dishwashing and general cleaning. However, they
may have been specifically formulated for large-scale use involving special equipment. Only slow
growth is expected for LAS in these applications.
PRICE
Typical Western European prices for LAS (delivered) are listed below.
Western European Prices for LAS
DM per
Kilogram
Dollars per
Kilogram
Exchange Rate
(DM per dollar)
1983 1.98 0.776 2.55
1984 2.06 0.723 2.85
1985 2.08 0.707 2.94
1986
a
1.96 0.903 2.17
1989 1.60 0.851 1.88
1991 1.50 0.904 1.66
1992 1.50 0.962 1.56
1993 1.40 0.848 1.65
1994 1.60 0.988 1.62
1995 1.50 1.071 1.40

a. Price is based on the average for the first quarter only.
SOURCES: (A) CEH estimates (data for DM PER KILOGRAM).
(B) International Financial Statistics, International
Monetary Fund (data for EXCHANGE RATES).
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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TRADE
Western European imports of LAS are negligible. Exports amounted to 30-35 thousand metric tons per
year over the last few years. See the SALIENT STATISTICS section for recent Western European trade
data. Some increased exports to Eastern Europe are possible, but this will probably be only for an interim
period until surfactant and detergent manufacturers establish production facilities in Eastern Europe.
EASTERN EUROPE
PRODUCING COMPANIES
The following table lists the Eastern European producers of linear/branched alkylbenzenes (LAB/BAB)
and alkylbenzene sulfonates (LAS/BAS). The information presented may be incomplete and has not been
verified by the individual producers listed.
Eastern European Producers of Linear/Branched Alkylbenzenes
and Alkylbenzene Sulfonates
Annual Capacity
as of December 1995
(thousands of
metric tons)
Company and
Plant Location LAB/BAB LAS/BAS Remarks
Bulgaria
Yambolen
Yambol 50 -- Benzene and n-paraffins, Pacol HF process via
internal olefins.
Verila Ltd.
Ravno Pole -- 12
Commonwealth of
Independent States
a
Kaprolactam State Enterprise
Dzerzhinsk, Russia -- 15 SO
3
-air process.
Chimprom Production
Association
Pervomaisk, Russia -- 6
Vinniza, Ukraine -- 24 Mainly captive use.
Kirishinefteorgsintez
Oil Refinery
Kirishi, Russia -- 30 LAS plant as project.
Kirishi, Russia 75 -- LAB plant under construction. Start-up planned
for 1996.
Sovhenk (Henkel Russia)
Khimvolokno Plant
Engels, Russia -- 9 Captive production.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Eastern European Producers of Linear/Branched Alkylbenzenes (continued)
and Alkylbenzene Sulfonates
Annual Capacity
as of December 1995
(thousands of
metric tons)
Company and
Plant Location LAB/BAB LAS/BAS Remarks
Commonwealth of
Independent States
a
(continued)
State-Owned Complexes
Angarsk, Russia -- 24
Gorlovka, Ukraine 10 12
Novomoskovsk, Ukraine -- 12 Major laundry detergent producer.
Shebekino, Russia -- 7
Sumgait, Azerbaijan 70 -- Benzene and kerosene.
Sumgait, Azerbaijan 75 -- Paraffins.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan -- 6 Operating status uncertain.
Volgodonsk, Russia -- 10 Joint venture with Albright & Wilson.
Czech Republic
Lybar vel Vetg
(former Spolek pro Chemickou
a Hutni Vyrobu a.s.
Usti nad Labem -- 6
Rakona (Procter & Gamble)
Rakovnik -- 7
Hungary
Caola Kozmetikai es
Haztartasvegyipari Rt.
Zalaegerszeg -- 7
Poland
Cussons
Wroclaw -- 10
Henkel-Polska S.A.
d. Raciborskie Zaklady Chemii
Gospodarczej Pollena
Raciborz -- 10 The company is 100% owned by Henkel.
Lever Polska
Bydgoszcz -- 10
Pollena
Gdansk -- 3
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Eastern European Producers of Linear/Branched Alkylbenzenes (continued)
and Alkylbenzene Sulfonates
Annual Capacity
as of December 1995
(thousands of
metric tons)
Company and
Plant Location LAB/BAB LAS/BAS Remarks
Romania
Chimicomplex SA
Onesti 8 --
Dero SA
Ploiesti -- 4
Detergent Factory of Timisoara
Timisoara -- 3
State-Owned Complex
Borzesti 10 -- Raw material unknown. Rodleben process.
Slovakia
Petrochema s.p.
Banska Bystrica
Dubova
--
na
na
16
The company is 100% owned by the Slovak
Republican State.
Yugoslavia, Former
Chromos Kutrilin
Zagrabria -- 6
Ohis
Skopye (Macedonia) -- --
Prva Iskra
Baric (Serbia) 50 9
Baric (Serbia) -- 6 Operating status uncertain.
Saponia Kemijska Industrija
Osijek (Croatia) -- 18
Total 348 282

a. Includes also regions of the former USSR not belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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CONSUMPTION
The following table provides estimates of detergent production in the Eastern European countries. The
ranges shown indicate the uncertainties in these estimates.
Eastern European Production of Detergents
(thousands of metric tons)
1990 1994
Bulgaria 60-70 10-20
Commonwealth of Independent
States (former USSR) 1,300-1,500 400-700
Czechoslovakia 80-140 --
Czech Republic -- 90-100
Slovakia -- 20-30
Hungary 40-80 50-70
Poland 190-240 180-230
Romania 60-90 40-50
Yugoslavia (former) 260-340 200-250
Total 1,990-2,460 990-1,450

SOURCE: CEH estimates.
The countries in the table above consumed about 2.3 billion metric tons of detergents in 1990, and
considerably less in the following years. The per-capita consumption of detergents in Eastern Europe as a
whole is in the range of 3-7 kilograms, whereas the corresponding number for Western Europe is 7-12
kilograms (compact and conventional). The production of detergents in Eastern Europe is estimated at
between 990 and 1,450 thousand metric tons in 1994. Assuming an average LAS/BAS level of about 7-
10%, this would have required about 70-140 thousand metric tons of LAS/BAS in 1994.
JAPAN
PRODUCING COMPANIES
The major producers of LAS in Japan are listed in the following table. The large producers all use the
sulfur trioxide process for sulfonating linear alkylbenzene (LAB). The estimated capacities listed in the
first column of the table are for LAS only and do not necessarily represent the total capacity for
sulfonation and/or sulfation. The second capacity column provides an estimate of the total sulfonation/
sulfation capacity of the LAS producers listed.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Major Japanese Producers of LAS
Annual Capacity as of November 1995
(thousands of metric tons)
Company and
Plant Location
Dedicated to
LAS Production
Total Sulfonation/
Sulfation Capacity
Dai-ichi Kogyo Seiyaku Co., Ltd.
Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 10 13
Kao Corporation 70 140
Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture
Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture
Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture
Wakayama, Wakayama Prefecture
Lion Corporation 30 130
Chemical Products Division
Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture
Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture
Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture
Sakai, Osaka Prefecture
Nissan Chemical Industries, Ltd.
a
Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 10 10
Tayca Corporation 45
b
65
Taisho-ku, Osaka Prefecture
Other
c
neg 30
Total 165 388

a. Production consigned by Nalken Corporation, which is a joint venture (50:50)
between Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Co., Ltd. and Vista Chemical Company (United
States).
b. Includes capacity for the production of some branched alkylbenzene sulfonate (BAS)
that is exported mainly to other East Asian countries.
c. Includes Miyoshi Oil & Fat Co., Ltd.; Sanyo Chemical Industries, Ltd.; Toho
Chemical Industry Co., Ltd.; and others.
SOURCE: CEH estimates.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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SALIENT STATISTICS
The table below provides estimates of Japanese production of LAS since 1974.
Japanese Production of LAS
(thousands of metric tons)
1974 138
1975 110
1976 111
1977 113
1978 122
1979 129
1980 92
1981 106
1982 117
1983 117
1984 115
1985 115
1986 115
1987 119
1988 128
1989 142
1990 144
1991 136
1992 142
1993 147
1994 151
1995 150

SOURCE: CEH estimates.
Until 1986, Japanese imports of LAS were negligible, and inventory changes are also assumed to have
been small. Because exports of LAS were low, Japanese consumption of LAS was probably only slightly
less than its production during most years prior to 1986. Since 1986, up to four thousand metric tons of
LAS have been imported into Japan from the Republic of Korea. More recently, LAS has also been
imported from Taiwan and Indonesia. The following table shows the Japanese supply/demand balance
for LAS in 1991 and 1994:
Japanese Supply/Demand for LAS
(thousands of metric tons)
1991 1994
Production 136 151
Imports 3 4
Exports 1 1
Apparent Consumption 138 154

SOURCE: CEH estimates.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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CONSUMPTION
The following table provides estimates of the Japanese consumption of LAS by end use in 1991 and
1994:
Japanese Consumption of LAS
(thousands of metric tons)
1991 1994
Household Products
Heavy-Duty Laundry Powders 107 120
Heavy-Duty Laundry Liquids 2 4
Light-Duty Dishwashing Liquids 10 8
Other Household Cleaners 3 4
Industrial, Institutional and
Commercial Applications 16 18
Total 138 154

SOURCE: CEH estimates.
In earlier years, the Japanese consumption of LAS was fairly stable, except for sharp declines during the
two major crude oil shortages, in 1975 and 1980. LAS consumption slowly recovered after each of these
crises. Growth in the early 1980s resulted from the continued growth in retail sales of household
detergents and the replacement of phosphate- with nonphosphate-containing laundry formulations that
contained higher LAS levels than the older products.
Japanese consumption of LAS was relatively stable between 1982 and 1986. However, consumption
increased in 1987 following the introduction of concentrated laundry powders, including Kaos very
successful product, Attack

. Concentrated powders now account for an estimated 90% of the Japanese


household laundry market.
In 1991, LAS consumption declined as a result of several reformulations that lowered the LAS content
and the successful introduction of two non-LAS-containing concentrated laundry powders, Lions Spark

and Kaos Just

.

The former uses alpha-sulfo methyl esters (MES) and the latter uses alcohol ethoxylates
as the major surfactant, rather than LAS.
During 1992-1994, price competition between synthetic detergent manufacturers greatly intensified as
low-cost private label products were introduced into Japanese detergent markets. To remain
competitive, detergent manufacturers used more LAS, since it was the most cost-effective surfactant.
In 1995, Japanese consumption of LAS declined slightly. In February 1995, Lion introduced a 1.2-
kilogram package of the concentrated laundry powder, Top

, which was promoted as providing


performance equal to the older 1.5-kilogram package. Although the surfactant level was increased from
32% (1.5-kilogram product) to 39%, the total consumption of surfactants declined slightly. Similarly,
Lions 1.5-kilogram product was replaced by a 1.2-kilogram product. In addition, Kao introduced a 1.2-
kilogram package of Attack

that employed an improved builder system, but the surfactant level was
reduced from 41% in the 1.5-kilogram product to 38% in the new 1.2-kilogram product. Kao is still
marketing both types. Overall, these developments have slightly reduced total surfactant consumption,
including LAS consumption.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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The Japanese consumption of household detergents is expected to grow at about 2.5-3.0% per year, but
the consumption of LAS in these products is not expected to grow. Current trends suggest the Japanese
consumption of LAS will decline at an average annual rate of 1-2% over the 1994-1999 period.
PRICE
Alkylbenzene sulfonic acid is generally sold in bulk quantities. Prices have been dropping in the past
several years, and in 1994, the average price for the sulfonic acid (96% activity) was 200 per kilogram.
Imported LAS is less expensive than the domestic product and sells for 100-120 per kilogram. The
average list price for bulk quantities of the alkylbenzene sulfonic acid (96%) in early 1992 was 170-250
($1.32-1.95) per kilogram. (The dollar values are based on an average exchange rate of 128.4 per dollar
during the first three months of 1992.) Imported LAS (from the Republic of Korea and Taiwan) was
valued at 132-134 per kilogram in 1991.
TRADE
There are no independent official trade statistics for LAS in Japan. Japanese imports of LAS amounted to
3 thousand metric tons in 1991, and 4-5 thousand metric tons in 1994. Most of these imports were from
the Republic of Korea and Taiwan, but a small quantity also came from Indonesia. Imported products are
cheaper than domestic products and have become the price leaders in the Japanese LAS market. Because
increasing volumes of LAB are imported to produce LAS, imports of LAS could also increase, since
Japanese LAS producers no longer have an economic advantage in producing sulfonic acid.
Japanese exports of LAS in 1994 were an estimated one thousand metric tons.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Chemical Economics HandbookThe following CEH marketing research reports and product review
contain additional information that is pertinent to the subject of this marketing research report:
Detergent Alcohols
Industrial Phosphates
Linear and Branched Alkylbenzenes
Linear alpha-Olefins
Normal Paraffins (C
9
-C
17
)
Surfactants, Household Detergents and Their Raw Materials
Process Economics ProgramThe following Process Economics Program reports contain more detailed
information on the manufacturing processes, process design and process economics of the chemicals
discussed in this report. Address inquiries concerning this information to the Process Economics
Program, SRI International, Menlo Park, California 94025.
February 1996 LINEAR ALKYLATE SULFONATES Surface-Active
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Anionic Surfactants, Report No. 59B, September 1992.
Specialty Chemicals Update ProgramThe following SCUP report contains additional information on
the subject of this report. Address inquiries regarding this information to the Specialty Chemicals Update
Program, SRI International, Menlo Park, California 94025.
Industrial and Institutional Cleaners
Surfactants
Other ReferencesThe following list of additional references is suggested for supplemental reading:
de Jong, Aldolf L., and Arno Cahn, A Look at LAS and the Environment, Journal of the American Oil
Chemists Society, June 1989, p. 748.
P&G Cradle-to-Grave StudyPalm Oil vs. LAB, European Chemical News, May 6, 1991, p. 40.
Schirber, Cornelia A., Use of Synthetic vs Natural Feedstocks, INFORM, December 1991, p. 1062.
Vogel, W. J. B., Preserving Choices Among Surfactant Feedstocks, talk presented at the CESIO
Conference, June 2, 1992, London.