Mass-production of high-performance surfactants from non-edible biomass using yeast

Researchers at AIST have established the technology to mass-produce naturally-derived high-performance surfactants called “biosurfactants” from non-edible biomass. With the increasing awareness of the need to establish a low-carbon society, it is becoming more and more important for the chemical industry…

Researchers at AIST have established the technology to mass-produce naturally-derived high-performance surfactants called “biosurfactants” from non-edible biomass.

With the increasing awareness of the need to establish a low-carbon society, it is becoming more and more important for the chemical industry to utilize renewable resources, not depending solely on petroleum. In particular, there is an urgent need to produce a variety of chemicals from non-edible biomass that does not compete with foods. Bio-fuels are already produced utilizing non-edible biomass. However, the utilization of non-edible biomass for chemical products has been extremely limited due to constraints regarding synthesis technology and those of cost.
In the present research, the researchers have succeeded in producing biosurfactants directly from a non-edible biomass material, mahua oil, by a fermentation process using yeast, and also in establishing the technology for their inexpensive mass supply by optimizing the fermentation conditions and the method of separating products (Fig. 1). These biosurfactants, which not only have excellent detergency at low concentrations but also exhibit high biodegradability, are expected to be used in toiletry products such as detergents and shampoos that are friendly to the environment.
With the emergence of problems such as global warming, it is becoming increasingly important to develop technologies to promote the conversion of raw materials from petroleum to renewable resources such as biomass, aiming to break away from fossil resources. In particular, non-edible biomass materials, including cellulose and mahua oil, are drawing attention; these can be inexpensively supplied and their price fluctuation is relatively small, as they do not compete with foods. Bio-fuels are already produced utilizing non-edible biomass, its utilization for chemical products has been very limited due to constraints regarding synthesis technology and those of cost. However, in order to accelerate the utilization of biomass, its application into chemical products that have additional value greater than fuel is desired.

Figure 2: Structures of the biosurfactants.
On the other hand, more than a million tons of surfactants are produced every year within Japan alone and are used in daily necessities such as kitchen detergents and shampoos. They are also used in a wide range of industries, including machine, building, and engineering industries. Since there is the possibility of these surfactants being diffused into the environment after use, there is a demand for high-performance products that are safe, have a low environmental impact, and exert their functions in smaller quantities. Currently, most surfactants are petroleum-derived, and compared to them, biosurfactants that are produced from various biomass by microorganisms, including yeast and bacteria are not only friendly to the environment and living organisms but also demonstrate their effectiveness at low concentrations. From the viewpoints of the conversion of raw materials and high functionality as well as environmental impact, the development of biomass-derived products is required.
As part of its development of environmentally friendly biomaterials, AIST has conducted the research in biosurfactants and discovered that they can be produced efficiently from vegetable oils such as soybean oil through a fermentation process using yeast found by AIST. At the same time, in collaboration with Univ. Ryukyu, AIST has initiated research on the diversification of raw materials for biosurfactants and analyses of their functions, in order to advance applied research utilizing their properties. In the meantime, ACS has been developing its business of producing fuel from non-edible oil as a substitute for fossil fuels. Utilizing its accumulated know-how, ACS has been in search of a new business based on chemicals with higher added value. ACS’s attention to AIST’s research and development of biosurfactants has led to the joint research.

Enlarge

Figure 3 : Surface activities of the biosurfactants. ● indicates the surface tension value of the aqueous solution of the biosurfactants at each concentration level. *The critical micelle concentration (CMC) is the standard for assessing the performance of the surface active agent. A lower CMC value suggests that a smaller quantity of the surface-active agent is needed to exhibit its detergency. γCMC is the surface tension value at CMC.
AIST searched for a microorganism that can produce biosurfactants from mahua oil, which is non-edible oil native to India and provided by ACS and among ten or more kinds of microbial strains, a kind of yeast that can efficiently produce biosurfactants was discovered. In addition, the researchers have identified the structures of the biosurfactants produced from the mahua oil. The chemical structures of the obtained biosurfactants are shown in Fig. 2. Moreover, when the functions of these biosurfactants were investigated, they were found to have excellent surface activity (i.e. detergency) at low concentrations. Consequently, their application to high-performance surfactants can be expected (Fig. 3).
Furthermore, in a collaborative effort with Univ. Ryukyu, AIST optimized the composition of culture solution (oil, nitrogen, vitamins, inorganic salts, etc.) and the fermentation conditions. Based on these basic technologies, ACS has investigated industrial mass-production of the biosurfactants from mahua oil, a non-edible biomass resource, and established a technology for the mass-production of them. ACS has positioned the biosurfactants as a pillar of its new business and started providing samples to manufacturers in various industries.

Explore further:

Turning plant matter into fuel: Book by UC Riverside professor focuses on aqueous processing of cellulosic biomass

Provided by

Advanced Industrial Science and Technology

view popular

not rated yet

Related Stories

Environmentally friendly cleaning and washing

Mar 09, 2012

More and more everyday products are based on renewable resources, with household cleaners now containing active cleaning substances made from plant oils and sugar. These fat and dirt removers are especially …

Turning plant matter into fuel: Book by UC Riverside professor focuses on aqueous processing of cellulosic biomass

Jun 12, 2013

A University of California, Riverside professor in the Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department edited a recently published book that provides in-depth information on aqueous processing of cellulosic …

Duckweed as a cost-competitive raw material for biofuel production

Mar 06, 2013

The search for a less-expensive, sustainable source of biomass, or plant material, for producing gasoline, diesel and jet fuel has led scientists to duckweed, that fast-growing floating plant that turns ponds …

Sensible use of biomass: A chemical industry based on renew

Nov 14, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) — Our industrialized world is largely dependent on fossil resources, whether for the generation of energy, as a fuel, or as a feedstock for the chemical industry. The environmental problems …

New strain of bacteria discovered that could aid in oil spill, other environmental cleanup

Jun 11, 2010

Researchers have discovered a new strain of bacteria that can produce non-toxic, comparatively inexpensive “rhamnolipids,” and effectively help degrade polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs – environmental pollutants …

New process speeds conversion of biomass to fuels

Feb 08, 2013

(Phys.org)—Scientists made a major step forward recently towards transforming biomass-derived molecules into fuels. The team led by Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers elucidated the chemical mechanism …

Recommended for you

Building better molecules for bendable electronics

Oct 11, 2013

Organic semiconductors made from small aromatic molecules can be dissolved and screen-printed onto many substrates, including plastics, opening the path for ‘flexible’ electronic devices such as low-cost …

Researchers find rust can power up artificial photosynthesis

Oct 11, 2013

Chemists at Boston College have achieved a series of breakthroughs in their efforts to develop an economical means of harnessing artificial photosynthesis by narrowing the voltage gap between the two crucial …

Spider’s super-thin ribbons key to silk tech

Oct 10, 2013

(Phys.org) —The silk of a spider feared for its venomous bite could be the key to creating new super-sticky films and wafer-thin electronics and sensors for medical implants that are highly compatible with …

New model gives better control of self-assembly processes

Oct 10, 2013

Researchers at ICMS (Institute for Complex Molecular Systems, Eindhoven University of Technology) have developed a new model that allows better control of self-assembly, the process through which molecules …

Crystal mysteries spiral deeper, chemists find

Oct 09, 2013

New York University chemists have discovered crystal growth complexities, which at first glance appeared to confound 50 years of theory and deepened the mystery of how organic crystals form. But, appearances can be deceiving.

Innovative concept for knee cartilage treatment

Oct 09, 2013

Researchers have developed a material that can be used for the controlled release of a substance when subjected to cyclic mechanical loading. This work, carried out within the context of the National Research …

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers ‘fish new pond’ for antibiotics

Researchers at McMaster University are addressing the crisis in drug resistance with a novel approach to find new antibiotics.

Chinese team finds drinking Sprite might help prevent hangover

(Phys.org) —A team of Chinese researchers working at Sun Yat-Sen University has found a possible way for drinkers of alcoholic beverages to minimize their risk of developing a hangover and other negative …

Culinary biomimicry

(Phys.org) —As any chef knows, preparing good food is just physics, or was that chemistry? Either way, the state of the art in cooking increasingly looks to science for inspiration. Engineers at MIT have …

Researchers find rust can power up artificial photosynthesis

Chemists at Boston College have achieved a series of breakthroughs in their efforts to develop an economical means of harnessing artificial photosynthesis by narrowing the voltage gap between the two crucial …

Turning vapors into foam-like polymer coatings

the essential component of plastics—are found in countless commercial, medical, and industrial products. Polymers that are porous are called foam polymers and are especially useful because they combine …

Single gene may predict mental decline after heart surgery

(HealthDay)—A certain gene appears to increase risk for mental decline after heart surgery, a new study suggests.

US universities make big bets on startups

Just before graduating from the University of Michigan, Calvin Schemanski began his start-up.

Growing backlash to government surveillance

From Silicon Valley to the South Pacific, counterattacks to revelations of widespread National Security Agency surveillance are taking shape, from a surge of new encrypted email programs to technology that …

Nobel economists: Masters of theory, if not of practice

Winning the Nobel Prize for Economics brings great prestige, but there is no guarantee the recipient will win over policymakers, the real practitioners of the dismal science.

Qualcomm’s brain-inspired chip: Good phone, good robot

(Phys.org) —This month, chipmaker Qualcomm opened up about its progress and goals in work on a brain-inspired chip architecture. The results are impressive. Computers that can mimic the human brain pose …