The structural and physical properties of surface-active chemicals,commonly known as surfactants, are described along with the applications for which they are commonly utilized. Examples of unique phase behavior aspects of surfactant-water-oil systems are given including liquid crystal and microemulsion formation and their transitions. Birefringence of lamellar phases used to identify their presence, HLB of surfactants used to design formulations, rheological and other properties play key roles in applications.Surfactants are important and effective ingredients in widely varying consumer and industrial applications. The use of surface-active bleaches provides enhanced stain removal in laundry detergency by bringing the active oxygen to the surface where the bleachable stains are present. In the oilfield, surfactants have been shown to be useful for demulsification in the processing of produced enhanced oil recovery fluids. Additionally, de-emulsifiers are shown to be beneficial in reducing the viscosity of crude oil emulsions produced offshore which in turn reduces power requirements to transport the crude oil to shore for processing.
Olina Ghosh Raney received her Bachelor of Technology degree in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay in 1981 and her PhD from Rice University in 1985 studying the phase transitions from liquid crystals to microemulsions in various surfactant-brine-oil systems. She has extensive experience in industry having worked for Solvay America in developing peroxygen bleaching systems for consumer and industrial use and for Shell Exploration & Production in the areas of production chemistry and deepwater production facilities. Currently, Olina serves as a consultant in R&D and marketing to the chemical and energy industries. She is an active community volunteer and enjoys mentoring recent engineering graduates, local university and high school students.