Recent funding advances environmentally friendly conditioning agents in shampoo development

Procter and Gamble’s continued partnership with Ronald Larson and the Larson Lab explores greener opportunities for conditioning agents in shampoo.

An ongoing collaboration between Procter and Gamble (P&G) and George Granger Brown Professor of Chemical Engineering, Ronald Larson is exploring eco-conscious avenues for conditioning agents in shampoo formulations.

P&G’s endeavor is centered on ushering in a new era of conditioning shampoos, characterized by the incorporation of environmentally friendly ingredients that are gentle on the scalp, eyes and skin. The key to achieving this lies in understanding the deposition mechanisms of conditioning agents on hair. Larson and his research team have joined forces with P&G to construct a predictive model for the formation of a critical component of shampoo, known as coacervate. This work will pave the way for the integration of greener and milder ingredients in coacervate formation.

Larson, in collaboration with former Larson Lab PhD student, now a P&G scientist, Mohsen Ghasemi, and P&G researchers Sumanth Jamadagni and Eric Johnson, have devised a groundbreaking procedure to predict the phase behavior of surfactant-polymer mixtures, key constituents of shampoo. This innovative procedure is guiding the development of novel and enhanced shampoo formulations.

“What excites me most about this work is its fusion of fundamental understanding and predictive capabilities, all contributing to products that benefit society.”

Ronald Larson
George Granger Brown Professor of Chemical Engineering

 “What excites me most about this work is its fusion of fundamental understanding and predictive capabilities, all contributing to products that benefit society,” Larson said. “The need to reformulate personal care products to align with life cycle and environmental considerations, and to do so swiftly, necessitates a bedrock of fundamental knowledge to avoid long trial and error cycles.”‘

Extensional flow, a critical phenomenon in the shampoo manufacturing process, arises during the extrusion of materials into containers and in the hands of consumers during usage. A comprehension of material behavior in extensional flow is indispensable for designing a multitude of products. Yet, there remains much to uncover about their behavior within a solution.

To tackle this challenge, Larson and team introduced a novel analytical approach that amalgamates simulations for modeling molecular behavior, consideration of the entanglement of polymer or micelle molecules, and precise modeling of fluid dynamics around slender objects. This comprehensive approach empowers researchers to interpret experimental findings accurately and gain deeper insights into how these materials behave when subjected to stretching forces, facilitating their development for environmentally friendly applications.

This project has received support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through grants from the Division of Materials Research (DMR) and the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET).

“Securing these two NSF grants empowers our team to delve into both fundamental aspects and practical applications, while also nurturing the next generation of researchers who often continue their work in similar areas post-graduation,” Larson said.

In an additional collaborative effort, Larson and his research group, have partnered with Takeshi Sato at Kyoto University and Ravi Prakash at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, for this project.

The Larson Lab is dedicated to research in complex fluids, fluid mechanics, biopolymers, and molecular simulations. It is under the guidance of Larson, who holds the esteemed positions of George Granger Brown Professor of Chemical Engineering and A. H. White Distinguished University Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan.