Journal of Oil Palm Research Vol. 10 No. 1, June 1998, p. 15-34


SALMIAH, Ahmad*; ZAHARIAH, Ismail*; JASMIN, Samsi*


Malaysia currently has the capacity to produce about 20% of the world’s production of basic oleochemicals such as fatty acids, fatty methyl esters, other fatty alkyl esters, fatty alcohols and glycerol. Besides basic oleochemicals, there are also capacities to produce other derivatives such as mono and diglycerides, soap noodles, metalic soaps and ethylene bisstearamide.

Alpha-sulphonated methyl ester (α-SME) is an anionic surfactant that has frequently been mentioned. Due to its good detergency and less sensitive to water hardness, it could be used as a soap additive. However, α-SME received commercial significance only in Japan. Due to the availability of fatty methyl esters, which is the raw material for the production of α-SME and can be the raw material for the production of soap, it is worthwhile to consider utilizing these (fatty methyl ester and soap) to the best for Malaysia.

This paper reports on the washing behavior of α-SME based on palm fatty acid distillates, palm stearin and pure fatty acids produced on a pilot plant scale. The detergency of α-SME from palm stearin and palm fatty acid distillates were found to be similar and comparable to LAS and FAS. α-SME was also found to be mild towards the enzyme Savinase. As expected, the detergency of soap is increased via the addition of α-SME, and, at room temperature, the combination of (C12 soap:C14 – α SME) was better than (C14 a soap:C14 α-SME) and which was, in turn, better than (C14 soap:C12 α-SME).


* Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia,
P.O. Box 10620, 50720 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.