TOP with Enzyme Power Laundry Detergent, Released in 1979, Registered as an Item of Future Engineering Heritage*
The First Enzymatic Detergent to be Fully Accepted on the Market

Lion Corporation (President: Itsuo Hama) announces that samples of its laundry detergent TOP with Enzyme Power, released in 1979, have been registered as 2016 Essential Historical Materials for Science and Technology (commonly referred to as items of Future Engineering Heritage) by the National Museum of Nature and Science. A ceremony will be held at the National Museum of Nature and Science on September 13, 2016, to register the samples and bestow a commemorative plaque to Lion.
This marks the second time that technological materials held by Lion have been registered as items of Future Engineering Heritage, following the registration in 2009 of the TO Reactor, which was used to manufacture surfactant.

*The National Museum of Nature and Science launched its system for registering essential historical materials for science and technology (items of Future Engineering Heritage) in 2008 to preserve Japan’s heritage of science and technology for future generations. As of 2015, a total of 209 items had been registered over eight years. An additional 16 items were registered in 2016.

Historical Background of TOP with Enzyme Power

In the 1970s, the impact of residential wastewater on the environment had become a social problem. To address the issue, companies needed to create detergents with lower phosphate content, but the development of technologies to compensate for the decreased detergency of such detergents proved difficult. Enzymes, which directly break down grime, were viewed as promising potential detergency boosters, and detergents containing enzymes were released in the 1960s in Japan and elsewhere. However, due to inadequate granulation technologies, the enzymes in these detergents were powdery and easily entered the air as dust, raising concerns about their safety during manufacturing and use. As a result, many companies withdrew their enzymatic detergents from the market.
The technological hurdles Lion faced in developing an enzymatic detergent were ensuring enzyme safety and stability. To ensure safety, Lion looked to the granular capsulized enzymes developed by Danish enzyme manufacturer Novo and carried out careful, extensive testing and confirmation of safety aimed at bringing such enzymes to market. The other challenge was to formulate a detergent in which enzymes, which degrade easily, would be stable. Lion overcame this hurdle using the highly biodegradable surfactant alpha olefin sulfonate (AOS), which was the main ingredient in Lion’s detergents at the time. TOP with Enzyme Power was a success in terms of both improving environmental friendliness, due to its reduced phosphate content, and enhancing detergency.
TOP with Enzyme Power was selected as an item of Future Engineering Heritage in recognition of its success as the first enzymatic detergent to be deemed completely safe and fully accepted on the market at a time when other companies in the industry were discontinuing detergents formulated with enzymes.

TOP with Enzyme Power

TOP with Enzyme Power

Lion’s Other Item of Future Engineering Heritage—The TO Reactor, Used to Manufacture Surfactant

Behind the success of TOP with Enzyme Power was the TO Reactor. This reactor enabled the high-volume synthesis of the surfactant AOS, which is highly compatible with enzymes, facilitating their stable use in detergents, and features excellent biodegradability.
The TO Reactor was registered as an item of Future Engineering Heritage in 2009.

Carrying on the Vision of Developing Environmentally Friendly Detergents

Lion released Japan’s first phosphate-free detergent, Seseragi, in 1973. Seseragi was discontinued in the wake of the oil shocks, but Lion continued research aimed at creating phosphate-free detergents. This research lead to the development of TOP with Enzyme Power, the detergent that has now been registered as an item of Future Engineering Heritage. This product achieved market success as a detergent with both low phosphate content and powerful detergency. In 1980, the year after the detergent’s initial release, Lion released Murin TOP (“Nonphosphate TOP”), a completely phosphate-free version, by leveraging its enzyme formulation technology. Today, enzymes are well established as an essential laundry detergent detergency booster.
Following the success of TOP with Enzyme Power, Lion continued to develop environmentally friendly detergents. In the 1980s, Lion made products more compact and worked to fundamentally revise the raw materials used in its detergents, introducing proprietary surfactants developed from palm oil and other plant-derived materials. Today, plant-derived surfactants are the main ingredients in Lion’s powder and liquid laundry detergents as well as fabric softeners.

Lion’s Main Environmentally Friendly Detergents

ReleaseProduct NameProduct Description
1967 Dash Formulated with highly biodegradable surfactant AOS
1973 Seseragi Japan’s first phosphate-free detergent
1979 TOP with Enzyme Power Achieved both environmental friendliness and powerful detergency with reduced-phosphate enzyme formula
1980 Murin TOP (“Nonphosphate TOP”) Achieved even better environmental friendliness and powerful detergency with phosphate-free enzyme formula
1988 High TOP Compact detergent with high-tech enzymes
1991 Spark Powder laundry detergent formulated with plant-based ingredients (methyl ester sulfonate (MES))
2003 SOFLAN brand products Fabric softeners formulated with plant-based ingredients (triethanolamine-based esterquats (TEAQ))
(Rereleased as TOP SUPER NANOX in 2016)
Super-concentrated liquid laundry detergent formulated with plant-based ingredients (methyl ester ethoxylate (MEE))

Registration Details

Technology Category
Laundry Soaps and Detergents Registration Category: Category 1 Registration No.: 00211
“Top”, Laundry detergent with enzyme
Catchphrase: The First Enzymatic Detergent to be Fully Accepted on the Market
Lion Corporation, 1-2-22, Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-8544
Owner (Custodian)
Lion Corporation
Manufacturer (Company)
Lion Fat and Oil Co., Ltd. (now Lion Corporation)
Year Manufactured
1982              Year First Appeared: 1979
Reason for Selection
In an era of uncertainty about the safety of enzymes when many rival firms withdrew their enzymatic detergents from the market, this product was the first to be deemed completely safe and fully accepted on the market. The phosphate used in synthetic detergents was cited as one of the factors in the eutrophication of lakes and reservoirs and other problematic environmental effects caused by domestic wastewater. Phosphate was an important ingredient for the cleaning efficacy of the detergent, so the challenge was to produce a synthetic detergent that contained little to no phosphate. This product successfully compensated for the reduced cleaning efficacy due to the lower phosphate content by adding in granular capsulized enzymes that would be harmless during manufacture and use. This is a valuable item that represents an important step in the development of synthetic detergents.
Registration Standard
2-A (Played a notable role in improving people’s way of life and creating new ways of living.)