Two cationic gemini surfactants having ester bonds between the hydrophobic tail and the cationic moiety have been synthesized. The ester bonds were either with the ester carbonyl group away from the positive charge (esterquat type arrangement) or facing the positive charge (betaine ester type arrangement). The chemical hydrolysis of the surfactants was investigated and compared with the hydrolysis of the corresponding monomeric surfactants. The betaine ester type of surfactants was found to hydrolyze much faster than the esterquat surfactants. It was also seen that above the critical micelle concentration the gemini surfactants were much more susceptible to alkaline hydrolysis than the corresponding monomeric surfactants. The biodegradation of the geminis and the monomeric surfactants were also studied. It was found that whereas the monomeric surfactants were rapidly degraded, the two gemini surfactants were more resistant to biodegradation and could not be classified as readily biodegradable. The 60% biodegradation was reached after 35-40 days. Thus, there was no correlation between rate of chemical hydrolysis and rate of biodegradation.
- Gemini surfactants