Scientist at computer monitors

A History of Innovation

From the start, the goal of innovation at Ecolab has been to solve customer problems through the powerful combination of sound science and on-site, expert service.




Innovation Overview: 
From Chemistries to Comprehensive Solutions
Ecolab’s story of innovation began with a simple powder designed for the sole purpose of cleaning hotel rugs. Now, nearly 90 years later, the story continues but with a systems approach to customer needs: Ecolab scientists and sales and service teams provide solutions designed to help them achieve optimum results while also lowering operating costs, reducing environmental impact and promoting human safety.

The journey leading to Ecolab’s comprehensive approach to innovation:

  • Began with a chemistry formulation designed to clean carpets, then advanced to liquid formulations;
  • Continued with dispensing devices designed to reduce customers’ exposure to chemistry and improve cost and performance by consistently delivering the correct product dose;
  • Advanced with packaging, including closed-loop systems designed to safely deliver the chemistry and product during transport and use, and through such packaging features as color- and shape-coding to help ensure that customers always use the correct product.
  • Moved forward with more advanced dispensing and control technologies, including:
    • Solid detergent blocks that make handling and dispensing cleaning and sanitizing chemistries safer and easier
    • Meters and controllers that accurately measure chemical concentrations to ensure they meet performance specifications
    • Ergonomic designs to improve ease of dispensing as well as compliance with best cleaning practices
    • New technologies, including sensors, ‘tracer’ chemicals and controllers that, together, measure and monitor real-time chemical concentrations – and can automatically dose chemicals as required.
  • Applied digital monitoring and advanced data analytics to help customers – and the Ecolab service teams who call on them – “see” inside their processes, determine if they are working according to specification and identify steps to improve results, increase operating efficiency, lower costs, save water and energy and extend asset life. The value of these steps is documented and shared with customers through online dashboards and Ecolab’s eROI™ case studies.

Over the years, across the company’s global innovation centers, Ecolab’s scientists and engineers began to apply a “systems” approach to new product development. Not only did they focus on designing effective chemistries, they also worked to advance manufacturing, packaging, dispensing and monitoring of the chemistries. The company’s innovators also developed tools and systems to help Ecolab sales and service representatives serve their customers more effectively and efficiently.

Screen capture of water risk monetizer website displayed on laptop.
Innovation That Leads To Impact

Customers have come to expect Ecolab to develop innovations that improve their operations, reduce business risk and lead the industry. Over the years, the company’s products, programs and services have helped customers:

  • Ensure food safety 
  • Achieve operational efficiency 
  • Address public health concerns 
  • Reduce labor 
  • Lower environmental impact 
  • Save water and energy 
  • Extend the life of assets 
  • Reduce packaging waste 
  • Improve safety for employees and customers

Holding more than 8,700 active patents globally in 2018, Ecolab has developed thousands of products, many featuring innovations in one, or more, of the following areas:  

  • Chemistries: leveraging chemistries that are effective with less water and energy and that lower environmental impact across many industries and customer needs.  
  • Packaging: generating less packaging waste and reducing transport costs and energy, while providing products that are safe and easy to handle.  
  • Manufacturing: investing in manufacturing innovations that support the efficient and cost-effective production of new formulations and product forms, such as concentrated liquids and solids.  
  • Dispensers/controllers/sensors: providing customers with increasing levels of safety, control and greater insight into the amount of Ecolab products used during their processes, as well as how equipment is performing. These insights enable customers to address issues that can impact performance. 
  • Digital technologies: combining digital technologies and data analytics with products and services to provide customers visibility into their operations, as well as actionable insights to guide improvements that will positively affect quality and performance.

Ecolab Innovation 1970
1920S–1970S Innovation: Cleaning, Dispensing and Service
The first half‐century of innovation sees steady improvements in cleaning and sanitizing chemistries and dispensing technology, as well as the personalized service EL offers to ensure that its products successfully solve customer problems. At right: Ecolab scientists developed this photometer to measure film left on transparent surfaces, to evaluate effectiveness of cleaning agents.

1923  Absorbit™, a powdered cleaner for hotel carpets, provides a way to clean guest room rugs quickly without removing them. Previously, hotels sent rugs out for cleaning, closing rooms to guests (and losing revenue) for 10 to 14 days. 

1924  Soilax™, a formulation for “new” commercial dishwashing machines, improves cleaning results compared with other dishmachine soaps, controls chemical release and results in less wasted product. Soilax is a powdered detergent, pink in dry form, green when mixed with water in the proper proportion and yellow when the solution is too strong.  

1926  EL receives its first patent, for Floroscene, a concentration indicator for Soilax.  

1928  First detergent dispensing system for use with new commercial dishwashing machines helps ensure the right amount of detergent is used. 

MikroKlene™, a powerful germicidal dishwashing rinse, is used to help sanitize milk cans and glasses. The most heroic claim of MikroKlene, however, is helping reduce the risk of dysentery for soldiers in World War II. Soldiers dipped their mess kits in a MikroKlene solution to reduce harmful pathogens, helping to prevent illness and save lives.  

1963  Score™, a liquid commercial cleaner combining chlorine and high-strength alkali and polyphosphates, provides better cleaning results than the powdered detergents it replaces.

1976  The Guardian™ System for institutional warewashing consists of highly concentrated powdered detergents and a dispenser with solid-state electronic controls for accurate dispensing.

Ecolab expert handling Ecolab products near Ecolab machinery.
1980S–1990S Innovation: Pioneering Leadership

The 1980s and 1990s are a period of pioneering innovation. Ecolab introduces the industry’s first line of solid detergents and sanitizers, and begins its leadership in applying peracid chemistry to create effective antimicrobial solutions.

Early 1980s 
TriStar™ L 2000 liquid laundry detergent is the company’s first emulsion, high alkaline, one-shot, laundry-formulated detergent to effectively remove oily stains.  

1981  Solid Power™, a pioneering chemical warewashing formulation in solid (instead of liquid) form, packaged in a capsule, can be easily inserted in a warewashing dispensing system. Solid Power provides added convenience and safety in handling dishwashing chemistry and reduces packaging waste (the capsule replaces large plastic containers used for shipping liquids.) The solid blocks take up less cargo space than drums used for liquid detergents, reducing total energy required for transport and related greenhouse gases. 

The success of solid chemistry begins a new era in Ecolab innovation in which scientists and engineers also consider new forms of chemistry, packaging, manufacturing methods and automated dispensing, as well as the chemistry itself. Among the “solids” products for institutional customers that follow Solid Power are:

  • Vanguard™, in the early 1990s 
  • Geosystem™, in the early 2000s 
  • Apex™ in 2007 
  • Solid Power™ NP in 2010
  • Apex™ 2 in 2012 
  • SMARTPOWER™ in 2017

1985 Ecolab’s Research, Development & Engineering facility in Eagan, Minn., becomes the first U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)-certified lab to conduct packaging self-certification for the transportation of hazardous materials in the U.S. In 1990, the laboratory also becomes the first United Nations (UN)-certified lab to conduct testing and self-certify packaging in compliance with United Nations hazardous materials packaging principles

1990 Oxonia Active™, an antimicrobial treatment for disinfecting hard surfaces, uses highly effective peroxyacid chemistry. The product launches Ecolab’s leadership in antimicrobial chemistries based on peracids, in this case to treat fresh meat, poultry and fruits and vegetables and help food and beverage processors prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness. Over the decades, the company applies peracetic acid to solve problems across other sectors, including textile care and energy development. Products developed after Oxonia Active with innovative peracetic acid chemistry include:

Food and Beverage

  • Early 1990s Mandate™  
  • Early 1997 Matrix™
  • 1997 Vortexx™ 
  • 1997 Tsunami™ 
  • 2001 Inspexx™ 
  • 2009 Oxy-Sept™ 333  
  • 2016 Synergex™  


  • 2000 Victory™

Textile Care

  • 1998 AdvaCare™ 120
  • 2004 PERformance™


  • 2013 OxyCide™ Daily Disinfectant Cleaner


  • 2015 Nalco Champion solution to reduce corrosion-producing bacteria in oil wells
  • 2016 Nalco Champion BIOC16734A biocide

1992  Oasis™, a complete system that includes a line of cleaning products for the housekeeping market in color-coded liquid concentrates with multi-language labeling and pictorial icons, as well as a closed-concentrate, on-site dispensing system that provides safe, ultrafast dilution and mop bucket filling. Oasis continues to reflect Ecolab’s commitment to safer systems for delivering concentrates as well as reduced packaging waste. 

1993  Vanguard™, a system that combines solid chemistry and a controller to monitor dishwashing processes. It also features lower phosphate levels than Solid Power and chlorine added for stain removal. 

1997  Tsunami™, a peracetic-acid based product for virtually eliminating pathogens in fruit and vegetable wash water in processing plants. Tsunami chemistry is paired with the Tsunami Control System, which monitors and consistently controls product in wash water systems.  

1997  Geosystem™, a non-corrosive, safer detergent formulation with lower levels of phosphates and less packaging waste. Special formulation for Asia Pacific and Latin America is called Evolution™. The program is marketed in Europe as EcoPlus™ Future: Solid Hydro™, Solid Hero™ and Solid Mega™.

1997  Vortexx™, a hard-surface peroxyacid solution used for continuous or intermittent conveyor belt treatment during food and beverage production and in treating surfaces in cold sterile (aseptic) packaging processes.  

1998  AdvaCare™ 120, an antimicrobial treatment for sanitizing healthcare and other linens in cold temperature wash. 

Dishwasher at restaurant cleaning dishes with Ecolab branded cleaner.
2000-2009 Innovation: Optimizing Across Industries
Ecolab continues to build its portfolio of peracetic acid-­‐based formulations, extending their antimicrobial benefits to the food and beverage processing and commercial textile care sectors. The company also makes significant strides in dispensing and control technologies, enabling both accurate detergent dosing and monitoring of dishmachine performance. Insights into factors such as detergent concentration, water temperature and wash cycle time allow customers to make adjustments to achieve optimum results.

2000  Victory™, an EPA-registered peracetic-acid based solution for treating fruits and vegetables in processing plants. Produce washed in a Victory solution does not require a water rinse because, when used in the recommended concentration, Victory leaves no residue effects. A patented dispensing system automatically dilutes the product to the proper concentration for maximum effectiveness and consistent results.

2001  Inspexx™, a U.S. Food & Drug Administration-approved antimicrobial surface treatment to reduce pathogens on red meat and poultry. 

2004  Wash ’n Walk™, a pioneering floor cleaner combining enzymes with traditional cleaning agents to digest grease that can be slippery underfoot. It eliminates the need for rinsing, thus reducing water consumption by 90 percent and reducing the risk of employee slips and falls.  

2004  PERformance™, a textile care formulation that increases energy efficiency by lowering the required temperature for effective oxygen bleaching in commercial laundries. 

2006  DryExx™, a dry lubricant that helps move glass packaging on conveyors in the beverage, brewery and food processing industries. DryExx reduces water use on conveyor lines by as much as 97 percent and lowers the risk of slips and falls on wet floors.  

2007  Apex™, a comprehensive warewashing program consisting of cleaning and sanitizing products and a controller for monitoring dishmachine performance, helps customers track key performance metrics. The program sounds alarms when dishmachine controls need to be adjusted and provides other actionable information to help save water, energy and labor while ensuring wash performance. Apex is named Kitchen Innovation of the Year by the National Restaurant Association in 2011.

2009  Oxy-Sept™ 333, an antimicrobial disinfectant used in hatcheries, formulated to address sources of cross contamination, including boots.

Distributor utilizing Nalco Water's 3D TRASER.
2010-2020 Innovation: Technology and Information Synergy

Ecolab finds innovation synergy in its 2011 merger with Nalco®, with Nalco’s Energy Services business applying Ecolab’s peracetic acid technology to oilfield challenges and Ecolab’s Food & Beverage business integrating Nalco’s 3D TRASAR™ Technology to deliver dairy and other beverage customers unprecedented insight into their systems and processes. With the explosion of sensors, Wi-­Fi, the internet and massive computing power, Ecolab innovates with digital technologies to gain visibility into customers’ systems and provide them with actionable insights and opportunities for improvements. The company also develops digital apps to help its field sales and service teams serve customers more efficiently and effectively.

2010  The EnCompass™ Environmental Hygiene program helps hospitals improve the cleanliness of patient rooms, reducing the risk of infections by instituting standardized processes and training and providing objective monitoring and automated reporting. It includes DAZO™ fluorescent marking gel for monitoring surface cleanliness and a mobile app for easy tracking and real-time reporting of environmental hygiene results. The process minimizes the amount of water used for cleaning and disinfecting by 80 percent. 

2010  Solid Power™ NP, a super-concentrated chemistry that is “phos-free,” saves shipping and packaging costs and lowers environmental impact. Marketed as Solid Power™ XL in Europe. 

2010  The 360° Xplorer control system for kitchens wins the bronze medal in the 2010 Dr. Georg Triebe Innovation Awards in the sustainability and efficiency category. Sponsored by the German Association of Professional Kitchen Planners, the awards are announced every five years for outstanding product, service and process innovations for commercial kitchens in Europe. The 360 Xplorer is a web-based system that captures data on warewashing factors, such as water temperature, pressure, dish machine utilization, as well as energy and water consumption. The data is used by Ecolab sales and service teams to help customers optimize warewashing performance and reduce total operational costs. 

2011  Ecolab acquires Nalco. Nalco brings a significant innovation history in water treatments for industrial and energy customers. See the Nalco Innovation History below for an overview of major innovations gained through the 2011 acquisition of Nalco.

2011  Excelerate™ ZTF (zero trans-fat), a cleaning program developed in response to changing diets that helps remove the stubborn residues of healthier zero trans-fats oils from kitchen surfaces. Cleaning time is cut in half, freeing labor for other tasks. Excelerate ZTF gains recognition for Ecolab as one of just four companies awarded the 2011 Institute of Food Technologists Food Expo Innovation Award. 

2011  Ecolab receives its first recognition on Forbes magazine’s list of "The World's Most Innovative Companies," ranking 33rd out of 100 companies.  The company is also named to the list in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2018.  Also, Ecolab receives the Minnesota High Tech Association’s Tekne award honoring Minnesota companies that contribute groundbreaking technologies that improve lives.

2011  Envirocid™ Plus, a new acid detergent that helps dairy processing plants manage their effluent and operating costs while improving sustainability, is recognized as the winner in the first annual Innovations Awards presented by the International Dairy Foods Association. 

2011  The Ecolab Cleaning Caddy, a cleaning system that brings together pre-measured product dispensing, a pressure spray wand, an on-board wet vacuum and a rechargeable battery within a footprint similar to that of a standard mop and bucket, is awarded the National Restaurant Association’s Kitchen Innovation Award. 

2012  APEX™, a green alternative for paint detackification using innovative chemistry, is launched to automakers and other manufacturers. For decades, hazardous colloids were used to detackify paint overspray in spray booths. The APEX program completely eliminates formaldehyde and other harmful, nonrenewable raw materials. It reduces total costs of operation, chemical use, the generation and transportation of wastes, water use, and emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Paired with Ecolab’s Ultimer™ polymer technology, a winner of the Presidential Green Chemistry Award, it delivers an industry-changing solution to paint-spray booth operations.

2012  Nalco Water introduces advanced hybrid technology for enhanced retention, drainage and overall machine efficiency to the paper industry. 

2012 and on 
Chemistries to aid energy extraction. Ecolab’s acquisitions of Nalco (2011) and Champion Technologies (2013) add a new category – oil and gas – to the company’s menu of chemistries. Generally, the chemistries help oil and gas companies meet three challenges:

  • Improve oil recovery in unconventional oil fields, such as oil sands and shale. Solutions include:
    • 2013  A broad matrix of well stimulation fluids customized to perform in wells with varying bottom-hole temperature demands.
    • 2013 and 2017  Novel treatments that allow customers to rapidly achieve peak production, enhance hydrocarbon production and sustain well decline characteristics.
    • 2014  Treatments with improved emulsion control that enhance oil extraction in Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD). 
    • 2014 and 2015  Programs to reduce drag losses in brine liquids flowing in pipes using “produced water,” which is water returned to the surface during hydraulic fracturing.
    • 2015  Viscosity management treatments that enhance production and transportation of heavy oils, an increasing concern as production from unconventional sources grows. 
  • Protect operations in extreme production environments, such as deep well. Solutions include:
    • 2014 and 2016  Anti-agglomerates and kinetic hydrate inhibitors to facilitate production in offshore applications in the Gulf of Mexico, deepwater applications and other oil-producing regions.
  • Enhance operational safety and extend asset life. Solutions include:
    • 2015  A highly effective peracetic acid biocide treatment that penetrates and removes biofilms, protecting infrastructure and reducing well souring.
    • 2016  Next-generation hydrogen sulfide scavengers.
    • 2017  New corrosion inhibitors that improve operational safety.

2012 and on
Innovations for the paper industry improve paper makers’ production efficiency and enhance the end-use performance of their products:

  • 2014  UltraPositek™ 9000, a high-solids, high-efficiency colloidal silica for improved drainage, leading to enhanced machine productivity. 
  • 2014  Metrix Bull, a high-performance strength program for board grades in China that allows use of lower-cost fiber. 
  • 2014  Early Warning Chatter Detection for Yankee Dryers in tissue production, a monitoring tool to support asset protection and machine efficiency. 
  • 2015  New coating package for structured tissue and towel grades, leading to improved sheet quality and machine efficiency.
  • 2015  FillerTEK™ equipment and chemistry enhancement for fiber substitution in graphics and white top board grades. 

2012 and on
New technologies for the mining industry to protect customer operations, while enhancing ore extraction operation efficiency:

  • 2012 and 2016  HyClass™, a product line targeting hydrate classification in alumina production.
  • 2013 and 2017  RRX™ red mud flocculants, which improve solid liquid separation in alumina production. 
  • 2015 and 2017  COLLECT-ORE™ collectors and FROTH PRO™ frothers, new product lines for base metals mineral flotation. 
  • 2017  SCALE-GUARD™ scale inhibitors for phosphoric acid evaporator systems, designed to help protect against mineral scale build-up.
  • 2017  Mining Optimizer predictive software for analyzing water-scaling potential, allowing Ecolab teams to identify areas of potential scale build-up and recommend appropriate control strategies. 

2012  Apex™ 2, an enhancement of Ecolab’s Apex warewashing program with an intuitive dishmachine monitor that collects information and provides foodservice operators greater control over warewashing results and total costs. Key metrics automatically monitored include wash and rinse temperatures, detergent levels and wash-tank change outs. Actionable alarms tell staff what needs to occur to maintain peak washing performance. 

2012  Prep-n-Print™, a comprehensive food rotation program in an intelligent, portable, self-contained printer, stores and calculates shelf-life information and prints labels on demand in multiple languages.

2012  Ecolab is presented two National Restaurant Association/Kitchen Innovation Awards, one for ActiveView HDI technology; the other for the STEALTH® Fly Station. ActiveView HDI gathers data from local health department inspections and standardizes and delivers it to customers via online customized reports and alerts. When positioned on the exterior of a building, the STEALTH Fly Station helps prevent flies from gaining entrance into restaurant kitchens.  A subsequent advancement using LED bulbs – the STEALTH LED Fly Light – is awarded the Kitchen Innovation Award in 2017.

2013  Ecolab acquires Champion Technologies, which has an industry-leading position in innovative specialty oilfield chemistries.

2013  OxyCide™ Daily Disinfectant Cleaner, a one-step solution for general hospital cleaning, disinfecting and deodorizing of hard, nonporous surfaces. It is proven effective against hard-to-kill Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, spores. 

2013  Aquanomic™ Low-Temp Laundry System for on-premise laundries combines innovative wash processes and innovative chemistry to effectively clean at water temperatures of 140° F instead of the traditional 180° degrees. The system reduces water and energy consumption by up to 40 percent while providing clean, white, soft linens. Aquanomic is awarded the Cleantech Tekne Award from the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA). 

2013  Ecolab receives a Tekne award from the Minnesota High Tech Association for Hydris™, a system that combines water, electricity and natural minerals with patented electrolytic cell technology to produce affordable and sustainable cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting solutions for large public and commercial facilities. 

2013  Antimicrobial Fruit and Vegetable Treatment (AFVT) helps reduce the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks due to ineffective produce washing in foodservice operations. It is the industry's first no-rinse produce wash to earn both U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance. Ecolab is awarded a Minnesota High Tech Association Tekne award in 2014 for AFVT.

2013  eVerified™ ASP560, an environmentally friendly additive for hydraulic fracturing fluids, is developed to replace more hazardous conventional technologies. It is awarded a 2013 Presidential Green Chemistry Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, Ecolab’s improved formulation of the oxidizing biocide peracetic acid (PAA) for use in hydraulic fracturing receives a Tekne award from the Minnesota High Tech Association.

2014  Next-generation PURATE™ chlorine dioxide (ClO2) technology for water treatment and other industrial applications. The technology makes on-site ClO2 antimicrobial generation simple, reliable and cost effective. ClO2 is used as a bleaching agent in paper manufacturing, and in public water treatment facilities to make water safe to drink. 

2014 Ecolab’s improved formulation of the oxidizing biocide peracetic acid (PAA), for use in hydraulic fracturing, receives a Tekne award from the Minnesota High Tech Association.

2014 The Water Risk Monetizer, the first online, no-cost financial modeling tool to help companies assess the true value of water and the risk of water scarcity to their operations. Enhancements to the tool are made in 2015 and 2017. 

2015  LmENTARY, a cleaner and sanitizer formulated to reduce steps needed to clean floors and drains with less water, is introduced to retail delis and grocery stores.

2015  DrySan™ Duo, an EPA-registered technology providing the first no-rinse cleaner and sanitizer for dry- or low-moisture processing environments, earns Ecolab the 2015 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Food Expo Innovation Award. 

2015  Sanitizing Wash ’n Walk™ No-Rinse Drain and Floor Cleaner/Sanitizer, an EPA-registered enzyme-based formula that cleans all soil types, including organic grease, fats and oils, helps reduce risks of staff slips and falls while killing 99.9 percent of pathogens. 

2015  Enhanced 3D TRASAR™ Technology for Cooling Water, featuring an upgraded interface and more advanced processing capabilities, helps customers efficiently manage more complex cooling water systems – in real time. Developed in 2004 by Nalco prior to its 2011 acquisition by Ecolab, 3D TRASAR™ Technology automatically detects, determines and delivers the appropriate chemistry to ensure improved scale, corrosion and microbiological control in cooling systems. It also helps customers save water, energy and labor, while helping extend asset life. Subsequent 3D TRASAR Technology innovations include applications for boilers, membranes and other water management challenges. See A Brief History of 3D TRASAR Technology.

2015  3D TRASAR™ Technology for CIP, the first application of 3D TRASAR technology in the food and beverage sector. It combines Ecolab’s cleaning and sanitizing chemistries with automated monitoring and reporting technologies and is designed to improve manufactured food quality and profitability, as well as increase water, energy and labor savings in dairy and other beverage operations. 3D TRASAR for CIP employs new cleaning chemistries and sensors that collect continuous data on factors such as concentration, flow, temperature, and valve position that is analyzed to improve operations. 

2015  Ecolab is awarded a Minnesota High Tech Association Tekne award for its Dairy Quality Enhancement Program (QEP), a cleaning and sanitation program that addresses quality issues stemming from biofilm contamination in processing equipment. 

2016  Synergex™, a U.S. EPA-registered, mixed peracid sanitizer and disinfectant, helps food processers improve product quality, plant productivity and worker safety while supporting their sustainability goals. Synergex helps reduce day-to-day process variability of fresh milk by up to 40 percent while increasing days of quality assurance by up to 15 percent. It is a traceable chemistry that can be used with Ecolab’s 3D TRASAR™ Technology for CIP to more accurately measure compliance with quality standards, optimize water and energy use, optimize line efficiency and reduce waste. 

2016  Geomizer™ modeling software and treatment solutions, developed to ensure maximum brine flow for efficient geothermal power generation.

2016  Ecolab is one of just 24 organizations recognized as Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for advancing the goal of chemical safety.

2016  New chemistry and cooling system control programs allowing the use of reclaimed or repurposed water in industrial cooling systems. Products for cooling systems control reduce customers’ total cost of operation by keeping critical heat exchangers clean for improved heat transfer, thus saving energy and reducing corrosion and enabling customers to more efficiently use impaired water for cost savings or to overcome water constraints.

2017  Refined Knowledge Program™, a digital platform that streamlines data collected by multiple sources within an oil refinery and helps clarify where issues are occurring that could affect operational efficiency. Customers, and Ecolab’s Nalco Champion field engineers, check the program’s website to see operational risks. 

2017  enVision™ 365 Process Intelligence, a digital platform, enables commercial laundry managers to monitor critical washing parameters 365 days per year and gain valuable insights into the washing process. These insights enable better control of textile cleaning quality while reducing operating costs and improving plant productivity. 

2017  SMARTPOWER™, a warewashing program, combines innovative chemistry, personal service and real-time insights into dishmachine performance. The comprehensive program helps restaurants achieve sparkling dishware with just one pass through the machine. Benefits include cleaner dishes free of protein build-up, water and energy savings and quicker resolution of dishmachine issues. 

2017  Ultrasil™ MembraneCARE 2.0, a program of cleaners – one alkaline, one acid cleaner and one enzyme – that effectively removes fats and other substances from ultrafine membranes used in dairy and food processing. The program helps improve membrane performance, and extends membrane life, reduces water use and energy consumption and shortens cleaning cycle times so plants can return to production sooner. 

2017  New disinfectant treatments are launched to make building water systems safer and protect people from waterborne illnesses, such as Legionnaires’ disease.  

2017  Technologies that protect steel industry blast furnace top gas pressure recovery turbines from scale and corrosion build-up, positively impacting utilization of this key customer asset.

2018  MARKETGUARD™ 365, a digital app, collects and consolidates food safety data – from temperature logs, sanitation checks and pest elimination reports to Health Department violations – for grocery and other food retailers. Store- and corporate-level food safety managers gain real-time insights into compliance with food safety protocols within their stores.

2018 Health Department Intelligence (HDI) platform, a technology that helps foodservice operators better understand their health inspection results, improve health inspection performance, and better manage food safety risks across multiple sites. With Ecolab HDI, operators can proactively identify where potential health department violations can be avoided.

2018 Hand Hygiene Compliance Monitoring System, a digital system that alerts patients and healthcare providers if health care workers have not sanitized or washed their hands. The technology helps fight the spread of hospital-acquired infections.

2018 Ecolab is named to Forbes’ list of The World’s 100 Most Innovative Companies. This is the fifth time Ecolab has been named to the World’s Most Innovative Companies list since its inception in 2011.

2018 AdvaCare™ Disinfectant, the first laundry disinfectant with claims against Clostridium difficile. The disinfectant helps controlling Clostridium difficile, one of the leading causes of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

2018 OMNI, a comprehensive program that combines real-time monitoring, advanced predictive analytics, and 24/7 expert support. OMNI combines chemistry, 3D TRASAR™ Technology, sensors and data analytics to help power and chemical producers improve production efficiency, capture energy savings and avoid production outages.

2018 The new Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) test, a molecular-based test for Legionella that provides results 14-times faster than current culture testing methods at the time. The test helps building and cooling tower operators manage public health risks from the waterborne pathogen.

2019 Smart Water Navigator, a free online tool to help businesses throughout the world improve water management at their facilities in the face of growing global water scarcity. It shows companies how their individual facilities are performing compared to industry-leading water management practices.

2019 CoreTemp™ Fluid Management System, technology to automatically and accurately track irrigation fluid volume during surgery. This technology provides advanced measurement capabilities to help support improved patient health and address the increasing need for process and cost efficiencies in the healthcare industry.

2019 KAY® PROTECT, automates food safety checklists at quick-service restaurants and integrates data across resources such as food safety audits, health department inspections, and cleaning and sanitation product use. This streamlines complex restaurant processes and protects against unique sanitation challenges, while speeding operations and improving data visibility and accuracy.

2019 LegionGuard LG25, an on-site generated chlorine dioxide product shown to reduce the bacteria in water that causes Legionnaires’ disease. It provides supplemental treatment for potable (drinking) water and is the first product of its kind to be registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for this use.

2019 ECOLAB3D, a cloud-based digital platform that collects data from Ecolab’s process control and monitoring systems, automation tools and other systems to create real-time alerts, optimize plant operations and benchmark performance across company sites. The platform helps businesses improve asset performance and reduce water use.

2019 Ecolab introduces more than 100 innovations. 2019 innovation pipeline is projected to deliver more than $1.3 billion in annual revenue in five years and is our sixth consecutive innovation pipeline of $1 billion or more.

2020 Ecolab Science Certified program, a comprehensive, science-based solution for clean and safe environments. The program combines advanced chemistry with new public health training and audit verification to deliver a high standard of cleanliness for public health and food safety required due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 Ecolab continues to build suite of products proven effective against SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, including AdvaCare™ laundry disinfectant, Peroxide Multi Surface Cleaner and Disinfectant for use with electrostatic spray technology and Sink & Surface Cleaner Sanitizer, the first product registered by the EPA to kill COVID-19 virus in just 15 seconds.

Two Ecolab experts in hardhats conversating on site in an outdoor industrial area.
A History of Nalco Innovation

Ecolab’s 2011 acquisition of Nalco, the world’s leading water management company, expanded the company’s portfolio of solutions – and its research and development expertise and capabilities. Nalco joined Ecolab with a long history of innovation in chemistries designed to improve water quality in boilers, coolers and industrial processes, as well as forward-looking technologies to monitor and automate water management. The addition of Nalco’s solutions provided a strong boost toward Ecolab’s vision to become a global leader in ensuring clean water.

1928  Nalco is born as National Aluminate Corporation when Herbert A. Kern and P. Wilson Evans introduce solid sodium aluminate technology acquired from Alcoa, which is used to prevent scale build-up in railroad boilers and boilers producing steam in industrial plants. 

1929  Nalco forms Visco Products Company, offering an additive for drilling mud, a mixture of clay and water used in drilling oil wells. 

1930  Nalco acquires technology and equipment to supply water treatment chemistry in convenient and easy-to-feed briquette form. 

1933  Nalco introduces water-softening technology based on gel-type zeolite developed by Emmett J. Culligan, who later left the company on friendly terms to form his own company. 

1933  Polyphosphates for water softening are developed by Calgon, Inc., which becomes part of Nalco in the 2000s. 

1943–1946  Nalco adds capability to produce high-octane fuel catalysts and ion exchange materials to support the war effort and post-war production.

1949  With diesel fuel contributing to the demise of steam-powered locomotives, Nalco’s business with the railroad industry declines. However, it successfully leverages its expertise in steam production to address steam-production in power-generation plants. In addition, the company introduces a new treatment for cooling-water systems in pellet form. Knowledge from these applications enables Nalco to address both the fire and the water sides of boilers in power plants.

Nalco’s specialized technologies expand from water treatment to formulations that support oil and paper production processes. 

Nalco provides advisory engineering support for the launch of the first atomic-powered submarine, the first nuclear aircraft carrier and the first stationary nuclear power plant in the U.S. Specifically, the company provided water treatment to help control scale and corrosion in the steam-generating operations of the three “firsts.”

1958  Nalco acquires Oil Products and Chemicals Company to gain a position to develop and provide process-side chemical treatment programs for the steel-making and metal-working industries.

1962  Nalco introduces lead anti-knock compounds for gasoline using a new electrolytic process developed by Dr. David G. Braithwaite, who later was elected president and chairman of the company. The process received worldwide recognition as a major achievement in chemical engineering technology. 

A major breakthrough is achieved with the development of a process for rapidly dissolving high-molecular-weight, water-soluble polymers. The process has tremendous impact in the areas of water and waste treatment, as well as paper production, for years to come. 

1980  CalGUARD From Calgon (which became part of Nalco in the 2000s) is the first tool for predicting and optimizing industrial water treatment to prevent scale, corrosion and microbiological build-up. It Is recognized with an IR-100 award, presented by Industrial Research, the predecessor to R&D Magazine.

1984  PORTA-FEED™ an alternative to 55-gallon drums used widely for chemical shipments, is introduced. With the handling and disposal of drums becoming a major environmental concern, the PORTA-FEED program feature stainless steel units in several sizes, each fully drainable, stackable and easily re-used. PORTA-FEED containers can be connected to create a continuous supply of chemical treatment. The system helps customers improve safety for their employees and eliminates disposal costs and long-term liability associated with chemical drums. 

1985  Super-absorbent polymers are produced for the growing disposable diaper market.

1985  Calgon, which will become part of Nalco in the 2000s, introduces new dispersant polymer technology, changing the water treatment landscape in oil fields, well drilling, boilers and detergents. 

Early 1980s 
New treatments for boiler scale and deposit control, including the Transport Plus™ and NexGuard™ programs, are introduced. They are based on all-polymer technology. 

1986  ACTRENE™, a product line that revolutionizes fouling control in the distillation of ethylene, a critical ingredient in plastic production, is launched. By improving fouling control, ACTRENE doubles or triples typical equipment run times of 18 months between cleanings. Subsequent ACTRENE enhancements are introduced in 1990, 1999 and 2016, ultimately achieving eight-year run lengths with improved antifoulant technology that also offers environmental, health, and safety benefits. By 2018, ACTRENE is used in 58 percent of global ethylene production. Over the life of the product line, it is estimated to have saved ethylene producers $3.9 billion in cleaning costs.

1988  TRASAR™ is launched. The technology uses optical fluorescence to provide measurement of actual chemical treatment levels in cooling water systems. The concept is later applied to measurement of chemical treatments in boiler systems.

Late 1980s 
Nalco introduces TRENDCHECK, an electronic means for water treatment customers to check data on their systems, helping them detect operational problems or avoid them before they occur. 

1995  Pathfinder™, a refinery crude unit overhead modeling tool that helps oil and gas companies assess the risk of corrosion in overhead systems, is launched. 

1996  Nalco introduces DepCon™, a monitor for the detection of inorganic scale build-up in oil and gas industry produced water systems. The program pairs monitoring with scale inhibitor chemistry and modeling. 

1998  STABREX™ Microorganism Control, a stabilized bromine antimicrobial, is introduced. It is much less toxic and generates less disinfection by-product than chlorine treatments, resulting in less environmental toxicity, less chemical waste and lower accident potential. By 2003, 150 million pounds of chlorine or its equivalent had been replaced with 38 million fewer pounds of STABREX in 5,000 water systems, and 500 billion gallons of industrial water had been successfully treated. 

1999  Nalco invents Ultimer™ 1460, the first flocculant polymer manufactured through a proprietary, water-continuous dispersion polymerization technique using completely water-soluble monomers. R&D Magazine recognizes Ultimer 1460 in its annual listing of the 100 most significant new technologies of the year. Also, the product is awarded the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

1999  NALMET™ heavy metal removal technology is launched. This low-toxicity technology includes a liquid polymer containing chelating functionality that simultaneously precipitates metals and clarifies a waste stream. 

2000  Nalco introduces Surflo™ subsea umbilical certification, a revolutionary process to ensure the suitability of production chemicals for application through subsea umbilical cables. The process includes rigorous stability and pumpability testing and elimination of particulate material during manufacture.  

2000  BrightWater™, a technology designed to help oil and gas producers maximize production, is launched. It uses nanoparticles to divert injection water toward oil-bearing rock zones. 

2000  Recognizing a remarkable series of new innovations, R&D Magazine awards Nalco four R&D 100 awards for new technologies, including: 

  • NalcoACT™, a unique boiler treatment program made from food-grade ingredients – those approved as safe to use in foods. The treatment minimizes boiler corrosion while optimizing water reuse. 
  • The TRASAR™ 3000 Fluorometer Feed Controller. This LED-sensor and controller combined with Nalco’s Dose & Diagnose service provides continuous, on-line chemical dosage control for scale, corrosion and microbiological treatments. 
  • High-Stress Polymer, an advanced dispersant polymer used in cooling water treatment programs that can be used with Nalco’s Active Polymer Test to measure polymer in cooling water systems. It significantly improves cooling systems operating under stresses of increased production or stringent environmental demands.
  • Nalco® 98DF063 red mud flocculant, which boosts production of alumina from bauxite ore with a water-continuous, dispersed-phase liquid polymer system.

2003  Nalco develops a new phosphinosuccinic oligomer (PSO), a dual inhibitor for cooling water applications delivering superior scale and corrosion protection. PSO also reduces or eliminates the need for zinc, molybdate and compounds that decompose to phosphate. The scale inhibition provided by PSO leads to more efficient water use because cooling systems use less water when they can operate at higher mineral ion levels.

2004  3D TRASAR™ Technology is launched. It provides full monitoring and control as well as digital visibility to industrial cooling tower performance. Core components include a fluorescently tagged high-stress polymer, a PSO corrosion inhibitor, a unique bio monitoring and control system and the Nalco Corrosion Monitor. For more on the history of 3D TRASAR Technology, see A Brief History of 3D TRASAR Technology below.

2006  The PARETO™ feed nozzle system is introduced to the paper market. It improves chemical performance efficiency and reduces water and energy use. The technology is subsequently extended to the wastewater treatment market.  

2007  OxiPRO™, which combines a stabilized oxidant chemistry and monitoring technology, is launched for improved microbial control in paper production.

2008  Clean n Cor™, a novel patented multifunctional treatment for oil producers, removes deposits, significantly enhances corrosion protection and maximizes water injectivity, leading to increased oil production. 

2009  3D TRASAR™ Technology for Boiler Systems is introduced.

2010  The FillerTEK™ program is introduced. It increases the filler content of graphics paper without strength loss. 

2010  3D TRASAR™ for Crude Overhead Systems, the first processing unit in virtually all petroleum refineries where incoming crude oil is distilled into various fractions for further processing. The 3D TRASAR Technology quickly identifies changes in crude oil distillation unit conditions, enabling refiners to adjust chemical dosing to mitigate threats to the unit before they escalate. This platform is an integral component of a comprehensive Asset Integrity Management strategy, reducing corrosion and improving unit reliability and profitability. As of 2018, 34 units had been deployed around the world, enabling oil refiners to effectively manage overhead corrosion and minimize risks to their equipment and production. 

2011 3D TRASAR™ Technology is extended to reverse osmosis treatment systems with 3D TRASAR™ Technology for Membranes.

2011 Nalco is acquired by Ecolab. Innovations since the acquisition are included in the Ecolab Innovation Timeline.

Nalco Water expert showing product's capabilities to Ecolab expert.
3D TRASAR™ Technology

3D TRASAR™ Technology was launched by Nalco in 2004, prior to Ecolab’s acquisition of the company in 2011. A brief history of the technology’s development and its expanding application to a range of water-related issues follows.



In the 1980s, customers using Nalco’s water treatment chemistries lacked the manpower to conduct the frequent inspections of their cooling systems needed to detect water conditions that could lead to corrosion, scale and bacterial build-up, all of which reduce cooling tower performance, lead to water and energy waste, and reduce equipment life. Spot inspections were not sufficient to detect early-stage problems in cooling tower water. 

To address the need, Nalco scientists wondered if they could use fluorescence in their chemistries to “trace” the concentration of chemistry in cooling water. In 1988, their inquiry led to the development and introduction of TRASAR™, which used fluorescence to monitor water treatment and control treatment chemistry. Later generations of TRASAR technology included fluorescent tagging of the active components in the treatment programs. Active tagging – similar to placing a bar code on the treatment molecules – allowed chemistry in cooling water to be monitored and fed into a cooling system under strict control. Greater control ensured that customers always had the recommended amount of treatment in their systems. TRASAR was credited for bringing unprecedented improvement to chemical feed system control and system performance. 

By 1997, with the internet making its way into everyday use, Nalco scientists and engineers had begun work to enhance TRASAR. Their goal was to enable remote monitoring of cooling system chemistry and performance. The Nalco team developed an integrated network of sensors and controllers, combined with wireless and the internet, to monitor biological activity, corrosion rates and scaling potential in customer cooling systems. 

Intelligent feedback algorithms were incorporated in the monitoring and control systems to analyze the cooling water data – and automatically add chemistry, as needed. Leveraging the global growth of the internet, the Nalco team also developed online performance dashboards to provide customers full visibility into their cooling systems’ operation (no matter their location around the world) and real-time alarms in case of system upset. Data gathered by the technology was sent to a team of Nalco service engineers, available 24/7, to review and provide expert guidance for troubleshooting or optimizing cooling systems. 

Thus was born 3D TRASAR™ Technology – the three Ds reflecting the technology’s ability to detect, determine and deliver chemistries. It provided Nalco service representatives and customers with real-time information on the performance of customer cooling systems. This information allowed them to quickly make adjustments to maintain ideal water quality, and thus help ensure system performance, extend equipment life, reduce water and energy consumption and lower costs. 

3D TRASAR Technology was honored with a 2008 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, presented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Today, it combines chemistry, remote services and sophisticated monitoring and control to improve the performance of a variety of types of systems across a growing range of industrial operations. Among the 3D TRASAR Technology innovations for water launched since Ecolab’s acquisition of Nalco in 2011 are:

  • 2012 3D TRASAR™ for Dissolved Air Flotation, which incorporates monitoring and control technologies to optimize water treatment in highly dynamic waste treatment applications, provides early warnings of performance drift and provides on-line reporting and tracking for waste treatment separation systems. 
  • 2013 3D TRASAR™ Solid Cooling Water Program, which combines solid chemistry with automated monitoring and control technologies. It provides chemical safety and handling benefits to customers while optimizing cooling system performance. 
  • 2013 3D TRASAR™ for Pasteurizers, which increases the efficiency of thermal processing, a benefit of special importance to brewers. 
  • 2015 3D TRASAR™ for High-Pressure Boiler Systems, which delivers water and energy savings and operating efficiencies in the extreme operational environment of high-pressure boilers.
  • 2016 The 3D TRASAR™ Hardness Detection Program, which incorporates an automated water hardness analyzer, to improve the performance of industrial boilers by preventing scaling. The program delivers water savings through optimized softening, energy savings by preventing boiler tube scaling, and improved performance through analytics.