It pays off to produce chemicals sustainably and maintain a high level of health. But how?
We can learn from some of the ancient natural production processes; the manufacture of paper, rubber, beer, wine, yoghurt, cheese. Also antibiotics like penicillin and the enzymes in our detergents derive from nature. They are not invented but copied. The latter 6 examples are all products made by bacteria and fungi. Biotechnology is the term indicating that we can apply nature to manufacture technological products. Branches of bacteria and fungi are kept in so called fermentation reactors to produce each a few micrograms and together several tons of product. Biotechnology is not by definition sustainable; sustainable means we replenish or re-use the raw materials we consume. When we develop biotechnological processes, we should check whether scarce raw materials are present in the bacterial nutrition and what effect the process has on the environment. A part of these bacteria end up in the waste water where they can cause harm by disturbing the ecology in the waste water treatment.
The European Commission has set a target that 1/3 of al chemicals in the EU will be manufactured by biotechnology by 2030. For special chemicals an effort of 50% from biotechnology applies.
In the detergent industry ‘biosurfactants’ are coming up. Surface active molecules produced in living (bacterial) cells. For those who think this sounds like science ficton, the ancient yoghurt and penicillin are recalled to memory.
Most biosurfactants are fatty acids to which a certain species of bacteria attaches a glycosyl(sugar) group. Nutrition for these cells consists of vegetal waste oil and finished frying fat ands is thus sustainable. An example of biosurfactants are Rhamnolipids; these are strongly foaming surfactants. Unfortunately the bacteria which produce these surfactants are also the cause of pneumonia. So these bacteria are employees which must be monitored closely. Sophorolipids are also sugar based fatty acids creating less foam. On the other hand the yield per producing cell is higher. They are produced by a special type of yeast. Recently the development towards Mannosylerythritolipids was started; yield, safety and cleaning properties are higher than for the earlier mentioned biosurfactants. Problems with such highly innovative research are the scaling up, the relatively high investments and the REACH registration, because fermentation yields complex mixtures of cells, raw materials, intermediate and end products. Such mixtures do not easily fit into the REACH guidelines. Furthermore genetic modification is necessary to ensure a high enough output. It is not true that biosurfactants are green by nature.
The Sirius Effect
Biosurfactants are in the future. Should you be interested; Sirius does not only know the sources but also pursues the discussion with those sources on sustainability, health and cost price. But today you are already using a biotechnological raw material; citric acid is manufacutred through fermentation by the fungus Aspergillus Niger. At 25-35oC the output after 10 days is about 70-75% citric acid from renewable resources like sugar and corn.
For todays and tomorrows green raw materials, email or call:
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