Journal of Surfactants and Detergents

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 195–202 | Cite as

Characterization of alcohol ethoxylates as alcohol ethoxy sulfate derivatives by liquid chromatography-Mass spectrometry

  • Giorgio Cassani
  • Claudio Pratesi
  • Lorella Faccetti
  • Stefano Pravettoni
  • Giancarlo Nucci
  • Nunzio Andriollo
  • Luigi Valtorta
  • Lee Matheson


The characterization of alcohol ethoxylates (AE) to determine ethylene oxide (EO) adduct distribution has been studied in our laboratory for many years by using high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). This paper describes the LC-MS approach being used to analyze both nonderivatized and derivatized AE. We conclude that the best way to determine EO adduct distribution is by first converting the AE to alcohol ethoxy sulfates (AES) and then by using LC-MS with electrospray ionization in the negative ion mode. A convenient laboratory technique for converting small-scale samples of AE to AES has been discovered and is reported herein. Several examples of EO adduct distribution determined by this method are presented for both linear and isomeric AE samples.

Key Words

AE AES alcohol ethoxy sulfates alcohol ethoxylates alcohol ether sulfates analysis anionic surfactants LC-MS mass spectrometry nonionic surfactants 



alcohol ethoxylates


alcohol ethoxy (or ethoxylated or ether) sulfates


atmospheric pressure chemical ionization


alcohol sulfates


electrospray ionization


ethylene oxide


gas chromatography-mass spectrometry


high-performance liquid chromatography


liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry


limit(s) of detection


sulfur trioxide dimethylformamide


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Copyright information

© AOCS Press 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giorgio Cassani
    • 1
  • Claudio Pratesi
    • 1
  • Lorella Faccetti
    • 1
  • Stefano Pravettoni
    • 1
  • Giancarlo Nucci
    • 1
  • Nunzio Andriollo
    • 1
  • Luigi Valtorta
    • 1
  • Lee Matheson
    • 2
  1. 1.Sasol Italy S.p.A. Research & TechnologyPaderno Dugnano(MI)Italy
  2. 2.Sasol North America Inc.Austin

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