The Role of ABA Surfactants in Waterborne Formulations

A major challenge within the coating and ink industries is to formulate more environmentally acceptable end products that comply with increasingly restrictive governmental regulations on volatile organic compounds.  However, the technological switch from a dependence on hydrocarbon systems will not be an easy one since there are inherent problems associated with potential waterborne alternatives.  Application, performance, and formulating challenges include wetting over low energy surfaces, foam, water sensitivity, rheology, and flow and leveling.

This paper will review the chemistry, theory, and application of surfactants in a wide array of waterborne applications.  Topics covered will compare the structures and behavior of both nonionic and ionic surfactants.  An understanding of how surfactants function with respect to surface tension reduction, foam stabilization and control, micro-foam, wetting of low energy substrates, pigment dispersion and stabilization, water sensitivity, VOC implications, and effects on rheological behavior will be covered.


Sam Morell is a Chemical Engineering graduate of New York University and founder and president of S.P. Morell and Company – a manufacturer’s representative and distributor of specialty chemicals.  His work experience includes both technical and marketing positions at Ciba Specialties, Rohm and Haas, BASF, and Air Products and Chemicals.

Mr. Morell is a recognized authority on surfactants and has been instrumental in promulgating the use of specialty surfactants to a wide array of industries including coatings, inks, adhesives, and lubricants. He has authored numerous technical articles on the subject in various publications including Modern Paint and Coatings, The American Ink Maker, and Adhesives Age.