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The Flemish spearhead cluster for chemistry and plastics Catalisti is looking for industrial partners for the research project 'Biosurfactants safari (Surf Safari)', focused on the development of sustainable surfactants from agricultural side streams.
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Surfactants are widely used as wetting agents, detergents, emulsifiers, and plasticizers in a wide range of industries. They are mostly produced on a petrochemical basis. This project focuses on the development of sustainable surfactants from natural renewable sources, with a low toxicity.

This specifically concerns the production of acyl amino acid surfactants by fermentation from agricultural by-products. The goal of the project is to demonstrate direct one-step biocatalytic conversion of crude glycerine (a by-product of biodiesel production) into specific bio-surfactants for different applications with an efficiency, and quality, equal to that observed when glucose is use as fermentation feedstock. Hereto, a combination of genetic modification, fermentation development/optimization and green chemistry will be applied. In a first instance, lab-scale production will be pursued, after which production on kg-scale will be pursued if lab-scale production turns out to be technically (and economically) feasible.

The current industrial partners will target surfactants that have specific amino acids as their head groups, with fatty acid chains in the 12 to 14 carbon range. The consortium is searching for additional industrial partners interested in testing the bio-surfactants for use in particular formulations (outside the field of home and personal care).

Candidates interested in participating in this project can register with Catalisti until 14 June 2019 (12.00), as described in the RFP.