Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Agricultural wastes yield biosurfactants for biocosmetics

12.03.2012
Large quantities of plant stalks, fruit and vegetable skins, husks and pods occur as waste in organic farming. In an EU-funded project researchers at the Fraunhofer IGB, in cooperation with international partners from science and industry, intend to use this waste to produce biosurfactants for natural cosmetics.

Surfactants are found in cleaning agents and detergents, also in cosmetics. Shampoos, shower gels and bath additives consist of up to 40 percent surfactants. They reduce the surface tension of water, so that oil can be mixed with water. Annually about 18 million tonnes of surfactants are manufactured, mainly by chemical means and on a petroleum base.


Agricultural wastes from certified producers will provide biosurfactants for cosmetic products.

A quarter is now manufactured from the oils of renewable resources, generally coconut or palm kernel oil. Microorganisms also produce washing-active substances that are called biosurfactants. However, only few of these biosurfactants are manufactured industrially, since their production is still comparatively expensive.

In order to make biosurfactants economically profitable for natural cosmetics, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB are developing a sustainable, cost-cutting production process in an EU-funded project. This project was launched on 1st January 2012 and is named “O4S – Sustainable surfactant production from renewable resources through natural fermentation for applications in natural, organically-certified products”.

For this purpose, the researchers intend to use wastes containing cellulose or oil and residual materials from organic farming as resources for a biotechnological process. Cellulose is a natural polymer consisting of sugar units which occurs in all plant components. If cellulose is converted into its basic building block glucose, the sugar molecules are available to the microorganisms as a substrate. “Various bacteria and fungi form biosurfactants from these sugars or also oils under natural conditions. The microorganisms can be cultivated in a bioreactor and the biosurfactants obtained industrially,” explains the biologist and engineer Susanne Zibek.

In the project first of all various naturally occurring strains of microorganisms are examined with regard to their potential applications. Important parameters for the fermentation process are: which strains can be cultivated in a stable manner in the bioreactor, which surfactants they produce and in what quantities. A further challenge for the researchers is the economical and, at the same time, ecological purification of the substances from the fermentation broth. “Here we will only use resource-conserving conversion and processing methods,” explains Dr. Ana Lucia Vasquez, who coordinates the project with all the partners. In comparison with conventionally produced detergents from petroleum resources, biosurfactants are environmentally more sustainable, biocompatible and biodegradable. Because of their more complex structure they can potentially have a greater range of effects. Some biosurfactants even have an antimicrobial effect which, as a component of cleaning agents, makes them interesting for skin care. Other surfactants are foaming agents and bind dirt, which is why they occur in shower gels and shampoos. The biosurfactants, which are produced observing strict ecological regulations, could also be used for applications in the food industry and pharmaceutical sector, also in restoration of the environment after oil disasters and the detoxification of wastewater.

“The use of waste products from organic farming both reduces the production costs and also ensures the sustainability of the biosurfactants,” says Vasquez. “We will accompany all the certification steps. In this way large quantities of waste from certified ecological farming can be used effectively.” In the EU ecologically certified products have to consist of at least 70 percent organically produced components, and foodstuffs even 95 percent. In order to guarantee this, the researchers of the Fraunhofer IGB work together with partners such as NATRUE: International Natural and Organic Cosmetics Association (BE), Naturland – Verband for ökologischen Landbau e.V. (DE) and Green Sugar (DE) as well as Intelligent Formulation (UK), Farfalla Essentials (CH), Grüne Erde (AT), Biotrend (PT), Cremer Oleo (DE), VITO (BE), Institut Dr. Schrader Creachem (DE), Asociacion Riojana Profesional de Agricultura Ecologica (ES) and Cevkor Vakfi (TR).

Dr. Ana Lucia Vásquez-Caicedo | Fraunhofer-Institut
Further information:
http://www.igb.fraunhofer.de/en/press-media/press-releases/2012/agricultural-wastes-yield-biosurfactants-for-biocosmetics.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>