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Why is Lecithin Great for Technical Applications?

Lecithin is Great for Technical Applications

Its emulsifying, separating, lubricating, and surface active properties help optimise, improve and enhance many technical processes in the manufacturing cycle.

Below, we have discussed some of the lecithin’s technical applications that are outside the scope of the food industry to prove the versatility of this by-product.

Paint and Coatings Industry

Soy lecithin, a light-coloured natural substance, is an efficient wetting and dispersion agent. Specifically designed for use in solvent-based coatings. It improves pigment wetting and reduces dispersion time. 

Colour strength is increased due to optimum dispersion, and pigment settling is prevented. Soy lecithin allows for greater pigment content in formulations. Enhances shine and flow. Some of the products from the paints and coatings industry that use lecithin for its technical applications include:

  • Architectural coatings
  • Air-drying industrial coatings
  • Wood coatings 
  • Varnishes

Plasticine and Modelling Clay

The manufacture of plasticine, a type of modelling clay, also involves the use of lecithin. Apart from its mainstay ingredients, the polymer substances, plasticizers, mineral oils, and spirit, lecithin is added to the formulation to control the viscosity so the handling of the modelling clay can be optimised. 

With lecithin, the composition becomes more eco-friendly, as its surfactant and modifying properties help keep the clay stable.

Biodegradable Films

This might come as a surprise to many, but lecithin is also used in the manufacturing of film. Soy lecithin, in particular, is a natural zwitterionic surfactant. When applied to films, zwitterion releases high surfactant concentrations that mix with low glycerol content to exhibit plastic-like behaviour and a high elongation percentage.

The reaction makes these films easy to handle and an ideal material for packaging. Such films are commonly used in the pharmaceutical and food industries.

Ink Manufacturing

Inks require water and oil emulsifiers for the complete dispersion of pigments in aqueous solutions. Lecithin, being an emulsifier with surfactant properties, can stabilise the oil in water emulsion. 

Unlike regular fountain pen ink, emulsion inks don’t fade over time and are also used for printing high-quality images since they leave optimum print density and a matte finish.

Paving Industry

Lecithin, as a plasticiser, increases the pouring qualities and optimises the flexibility and adherence of the completed pavement in cold-mixed asphalt, roofing felt, and concrete. This happens because lecithin’s active surfactant softens concrete.

Ballpoints and Highlighters

Polyalcohols and Polyvinylpyrrolidone or PVP are used as a solvent for inks in ballpoints and highlighters, and lecithin enhances their flowability and improves the ink’s dissolving capability. With improved dissolving and flowability, the highlighter's cap can remain open for longer periods without affecting its functionality.

Carbonless Copy Paper

Carbonless copy paper is used to write an extra set of notes in offices, banks, and schools since it is designed to paste whatever is written on the front of the sheets to the beneath. Lecithin is used in this type of paper as a plasticizer to improve the plasticity and adhesiveness between the transferring layers and the paper layers. 

As a Fungicide

Lecithins are fungicides that have the ability to protect plants. In the EU, lecithin is now an approved basic antifungal. It’s used for fungal spore generation by activating plant defences and directly influencing germination. It is used on fruit trees, gooseberries, and vegetable crops. 

Drilling Applications

Lecithin can be used for a variety of Drilling purposes.

  • Smooth operation
  • Friction and damage reduction
  • Managing viscosity in freshwater, and saltwater.

Powder lecithin is dehydrated to contain less than 1% water, 60-70% phosphatides, and 30-40% oil. If the concentrate is mixed with 10% to 50% treated oil with phosphatides removed, it can have surprising film strength and lubricity at temperatures below 250°C, making it suitable for use as lubricants for gears, cutting oils, finishing oils, and oil base and water base drilling muds.

Dust Binder

Lecithin, being a natural plasticiser, is an excellent dust binder for environmental activities. It is used in the production of paper, agrochemicals, and cotton plantations. The edibility and compatibility of lecithin make it a critical component of protective agents used against dust explosions in grain mills.

Detergents and Soaps

As a natural quaternary, lecithin allows for the decrease or even elimination of synthetic quaternary or other cation-active plasticizers, meeting users' ecological demands.

Even in hard water, detergents and fabric softeners containing lecithin can provide textiles with a pleasantly soft and fluffy feel. These textiles can include wool, cotton, synthetics, and blended materials.

Rubber Manufacturing

The plasticizing properties of lecithin also make it a compatible ingredient in rubber manufacturing. Lecithin increases the tensile strength, elasticity, and dispersion of the rubber mixture. From an ecological point of view, the characteristics of lecithin are also essential in recycling waste rubber. 

Leather Industry

Leather is softened and cured by lecithin. It is used as an emulsifier during the fatliquoring process to help the fat penetrate the leather. It is a heat-resistant lecithin that will aid in reducing the darkening effect of sunshine on leather that is prone to this colour change.

Lecithin has a low viscosity, which aids in the fluidity of fat liquor. It does not cause spots in the leather. Using high-viscosity fat liquor will cause spots in the leather.

Final Words

Lecithin is a true all-star. It has become an important substance in industrial processing and does more than just mix water in oil. If you are looking to buy lecithin for emulsification or for any of its technical applications, get in touch with LECITEIN.

You can also direct your queries to our technical team via email or call.

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