Project: Enhanced fermentative and biocatalytic conversion strategies of renewables to tailor-made glycolipid biosurfactants

Surfactants are surface-active molecules which we encounter daily for instance in cleaning agents or personal care products. The major amount of surfactants is still produced petro-chemically. Surfactants from chemical synthesis based on renewables are on the rise but the required oils originate from tropical plants. Thus there is a special interest in new tailor-made, biodegradable surfactants from renewable substrate flexible processes with native European sustainable resources. Natural biosurfactants, especially glycolipids, can be produced using microbial or enzymatic processes which results in a wide range of molecules with varying sugar groups and hydrophobic lipid moieties. Their unique molecular structure often leads to beneficial effects like antimicrobial or skin repair activity which create an added value for the desired applications. Only few microbial glycolipids are already manufactured on an industrial scale due to a low microbial productivity of desired glycolipid derivatives and a cost-intensive downstream processing. One aim of SurfGlyco is to enhance the potential of the underexploited microbial glycolipids MEL and CL which show promising yields and an enormous molecular variability. By adjusted feeding strategies and fermentations connected to an effective downstream processing we want to produce tailor-made biosurfactants with optimized performance in the area of personal care products, cleaning agents and natural plant protection. As second aim SurfGlyco will generate novel glycolipids of varying sugar and lipid components by using highly selective enzymatic reactions under mild reaction conditions. Currently, enzymatic synthesis still suffers from low space-time yields and a narrow range of products. SurfGlyco wants to overcome these problems by using stable enzymes with altered substrate specificities and the use of deep eutectic solvents as non-toxic reaction media which recently have been shown to enable high glycolipid yields.

Acronym SurfGlyco
Website visit project website
Network ERA-IB-2
Call ERA-IB 6th Joint Call in Cooperation with EuroTransBio

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
Delft University of Technology Netherlands
Fraunhofer Society for the Advancement of Applied Research - Fraunhofer Institute of Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology Germany
MetGen Finland
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Germany
Biotrend Bioprocess Development in Industrial Biotechnology Portugal
CRODA Europe Ltd United Kingdom
Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research Netherlands