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Gaiker-IK4, A&B Laboratories and Guserbiot develop new microbial-based detergents

The cleaning industry has traditionally employed products with active ingredients which are corrosive and aggressive for the environment (polyhydric alcohols, ammoniums, and so on)

2014/07/09  The cleaning industry has traditionally employed products with active ingredients which are corrosive and aggressive for the environment (polyhydric alcohols, ammoniums, and so on), and why there are increasingly more restrictions on their use, obliging the industry to greater commitment to the environment and thus leading to the quest for suitable substitutes. These alternatives involve developing equally effective biological products which, while obtained through chemical synthesis, are free of the drawbacks.

It is in this context that the R+D project developed by the GAIKER-IK4 Technological Centre was developed with the Basque A&B Biotechnology Laboratories and Guserbiot companies, devoted respectively to the commercialisation of industrial cleaning products and the production of biological ingredients, always under high standards of commitment to the environment. Last June 5 in fact, A&B Laboratories received the European Environmental Awards in the “Product and/or Service for Sustainable Development” category, an award given by the European Commission’s Directorate General for the Environment in recognition of the most advanced businesses in the application of policies of sustainability within their organisations.

The objective of the research, developed over the past two years, has been to obtain new microbial biosurfactants for the formulation of new industrial detergents as an eco-efficient alternative to dangerous chemical surfactants. This project has brought together aspects of biotechnological development and environmental criteria both for the design of new products as well as for the process of production of the biosurfactants. The production of biosurfactant has been designed from a sustainable approach, fundamentally using media from food industry sub-products (whey, molasses, sucrose, fibre, and so on), low-cost media cultures that can be eliminated with ease, on being naturally degraded by the flora present in nature.
Surfactants are agents necessary for detergence products in order to eliminate fats and other hydrophobic compounds and which have been traditionally synthesised using chemical processes. Those responsible for this R+D project at GAIKER-IK4 propose taking advantage of the fact that certain micro-organisms synthesise surfactants naturally in their food-obtaining processes and thus, to incorporate them into detergence products.

Put forward amongst the prime objectives of the research, thus, is determining which microorganisms are the ideal ones to be cultured. After taking samples in various environments (extracted from environments such as the roots of legumes or the cutting fluid coolant/lubricant from the process of machine tool manufacturing) and the initial identification of 27 types of microorganisms as potential candidates, the 2 with the best behaviour towards various origin fats (olive oil, mineral oil, butter and paraffin) were selected. The two chosen microorganisms gave optimum results in the production of biosurfactants, with maximum production levels within 24 hours of initiating the culture.

Such microorganisms currently form part of the culture collection of companies, and both the microorganisms and the biosurfactants that they produce are being incorporated into various biological products of A&B Biotechnology Laboratories.

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info:  Clara Bilbao,

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