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Sep 26, 2023

Surfactant-free Microemulsion Polymerization

Life Sciences, Chemical Process, Dermatology

  • Basend on simple, low-cost, non-toxic substances. Very pure polymer particles can be obtained by removing the hydrotrope.
  • Ideal for producers of polymer particles, e.g. for cosmetics, pharma, adhesives and paints
  • Avoid problems due to surfactant residues in the final product (e.g. foaming, harmful substances)
  • Possible access to hard-to-synthesize co-polymers by tuning the monomer reactivity

Your contact

Dr. Rebecca Kohler

+49 (0) 89 5480177 - 33
Reference Number:


Microemulsions are widely used as a reaction medium for free-radical polymerization in industry. Using surfactants or similar auxiliaries helps to gain control over the reaction process and the resulting polymer properties. However, the surfactants or auxiliaries will remain in the final product and can negatively impact its properties. For example, unwanted foaming can occur or hydrophilicity can be altered. Especially in cosmetics/pharma, unwanted additive residues can be avoided.


The innovative SFME system comprises just the monomers, initiators, water, and a simple alcohol as the hydrotrope. Several vinylic monomers, such as different acrylates, methacrylates, styrene, acrylonitrile, or vinyl acetate, were tested and were found suitable for polymerizations in SFME. The existence of mesostructuring could also be proven for dichloroethane, the industrial precursor of vinyl chloride. Acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, or hydroxyethyl methacrylate can be added to the system and act as additional hydrotropes.

Commercial Opportunities

The invention is ideal for products based on defined polymer particles, such as special pharma and cosmetics products, adhesives and paints.

Development Status

Technology validated in lab.


  • 1

    Blahnik et al., J Colloid Interface Sci (2023) DOI: 10.1016/j.jcis.2023.06.025

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