U of M scientists claim they have invented the 'perfect' soap

Researchers say this could have a major impact on the multibillion-dollar cleaning products industry.

A team of researchers led by the University of Minnesota have invented the "perfect soap molecule." It apparently works better than other soaps and is better for the environment.

Wednesday, the U announced researchers had developed a new chemical process which combines fatty acids from soybeans or coconut with "sugar-derived rings from corn" to make a renewable soap molecule called Oleo-Furan-Surfactant (OFS).

Researchers found OFS actually works better than conventional soaps, especially in cold water. The U says conventional soaps get cloudy, gooey and pretty much unusable in cold water. OFS apparently doesn't do that.

Since OFS foams similarly to other detergents, it could eventually replace soaps in things like washing machines and dishwashers.

You can even use it in "hard" water (water with a high mineral content) without struggling to wash it off.

"This research could have a major impact on the multibillion-dollar cleaning products industry," Paul Dauenhauer, a University of Minnesota professor and a co-author of the study, said in a statement.

Better for the environment

OFS is made from natural products. So it's biodegradable.

And since the new soap molecule works well in low concentrations, it's environmental impact is "significantly" lower than other soaps.

"These are really the perfect soap molecules,” said U of M graduate student Kristeen Joseph.

Many conventional soaps, the U says, are made fossil fuels such as petroleum, which are then "mixed with many additional difficult-to-pronounce and harmful chemicals" that get washed down drains.

This invention is part of a larger mission of the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation research center to produce renewable chemicals and biofuels from natural sources.

You can get the full scientific article here.

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