Smart solution: Anti-fog agents for agricultural films

29. September 2021

Where synthetic materials are used in the right place for example, as films for greenhouses and other land used for agricultural purposes – uneconomic, dry areas can be utilised for agriculture and crop yields optimised despite unfavourable climatic conditions. SOFTENOL® 3190, a product of IOI Oleo GmbH’s Technical Applications Business Unit, improves the efficiency of greenhouses in this special field of application and protects the plants in them at the same time.

The fact that tomatoes, courgettes or cucumbers are available all year round in supermarkets is mainly due to greenhouses. Even in frosty temperatures, the greenhouse effect ensures a warm indoor climate with no heating needed; moreover, uneconomic, dry land can be utilised for agriculture. Here the Spanish province of Almeria, which has the highest concentration of greenhouses worldwide, is the most prominent example.

Greenhouse film is a science in itself: For greenhouses to work, the film naturally has to be tight so that the heat remains inside. The technical term for this is thermal convection. On the other hand, the transparent film ensures that the shortwave radiation from the sun can penetrate but is absorbed. Thus, the heat cannot escape, and this leads to a high temperature difference between the inside of the greenhouse and the surroundings.
As a result, condensation water forms on the inner surface of the film. Once the droplets reach a certain size, they reflect the sunlight and prevent heating. In addition, the plants may be damaged through the magnifying glass effect or fungal attacks if the droplets fall onto them. And this is where our product SOFTENOL® 3190 comes into play.

Through the application of this special combination of different glycerine esters to agricultural films, the surface tension of the water is reduced and hence the formation of unwanted droplets prevented. This is illustrated in the images below based on an example of the coating of typical ethylene vinyl acetate films with 2% SOFTENOL® 3190: An even film forms on the inside instead of droplets and enables efficient plant growth.

EVA Film (VA Content 4%)
without SOFTENOL®

EVA FIlm (VA Content 4%)
with 2% SOFTENOL® 3190

The primary advantage of this product system is its variability regarding customer requirements. SOFTENOL® 3190 consists of two types of glycerol esters. Besides the possibility of varying the ratio of the two components in the mixture, diverse chemical structural changes can also be made to each of the components. Thus, the characteristics of the final product can be specifically controlled and adapted to customer needs and the requirements of the individual application. As already mentioned, a science in itself!

If you would like to learn more about SOFTENOL® 3190 or other exciting possible fields of application for our products, please contact us.

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Dr. Andreas Wintzer

Dr. Andreas Wintzer is Technical Product Manager in the Technical Applications Business Unit at IOI Oleo GmbH. He studied Chemistry at TU Dortmund University with an emphasis on technical chemistry, particularly in the area of renewable raw materials. The extensive knowledge he acquired during his studies is the perfect basis for his work at IOI. Before joining IOI Oleo GmbH, Andreas completed a trainee programme at the European Space Agency in the Netherlands, then gained production experience as a technologist at Papierfabrik Hagen, which at the time belonged to the Stora Enso group. He enjoys sports, regularly rides to work by bike and preferably spends his leisure time with his family or friends.

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