Fermentation for Biosurfactants

Biosurfactants are a class of active compounds that are produced or excreted at the surface of microbial cells, and have the ability to reduce surface and interfacial tension. Biosurfactants are produced by bacteria, yeasts and filamentous fungi, and their composition and yield depend on the characteristics of the bioreactor, pH of the medium, nutrient composition, agitation, oxygen supply and temperature. There is industrial interest in developing a large-scale production process for biosurfactants. Currently, the largest market for biosurfactants is the petroleum industry; in addition to this, there are applications in other industrial sectors, such as agriculture, cosmetics and food industry. Fermentation conditions allow the use of alternative substrates, such as industrial or agricultural by-products to reduce costs. There are three different types of fermentation processes which are frequently used for biosurfactant production. These are batch fermentation, fed-batch fermentation and continuous fermentation processes.

Biosurfactant Production Process.Fig 1. Biosurfactant Production Process. (Care, C. 2006)

Advantages of Biosurfactants

Compared to synthetic surfactants, biosurfactants have several advantages, such as:

  • Can be produced from renewable feedstocks by fermentation
  • Better environmental compatibility as they are readily biodegradable and exhibit low toxicity
  • Exhibit better foaming properties and stable activity under a wide range of conditions (pH, salinity and temperature)

Fermentation Techniques for the Biosurfactants Production

Due to the diversity, environmental friendliness, and mass production possibilities of biosurfactants, these molecules have the potential to be used in various industries such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, moisturizers, food preservatives, and detergents. However, the production of biosurfactants can be very expensive due to the application of synthetic culture media. Therefore, more emphasis has been placed on the use of various inexpensive agro-industrial substrates including vegetable oils, distillery and dairy wastes, soya molasses, animal fat, waste and starchy wastes as raw materials. These wastes can be used as substrates to produce biosurfactants on a large scale using advanced fermentation techniques.

  • Biosurfactants production in fruit-waste fermentation

Fruit residues are important natural microhabitats for microorganisms due to their organic matter content, low pH and high sugar content, making them a perfect source of many microorganisms. Therefore, fruit wastes and residues generated from the fruit-processing industry can be used as a renewable and low-cost carbon source for fermentation processes. Fruit waste samples from oranges, mangoes and mixed fruits were subjected to native fermentation to promote the growth of their associated microbiota. The results showed that the microbiota obtained from the native fermentation had genetic potential for the biosurfactant biosynthesis, indicating that fruit wastes could provide as a source for the production of biosurfactants.

  • Production of glycolipid biosurfactants by fermentation from waste cooking oil (WCO)

Waste lipids such as fats, oils and greases from catering service providers and households have become a major source of biogenic waste in urban areas, with WCO being the most common form of waste lipids. Large amounts of WCO can be effectively used as feedstock for waste biorefineries, and fermentation has become a powerful tool to produce value-added products such as biosurfactants, resulting in a more energy-efficient and sustainable circular bioeconomy.

Biosurfactant Production from Waste Cooking Oils.Fig 2. Biosurfactant Production from Waste Cooking Oils. (Liepins, J.; et al. 2021)

  • Enhancing biosurfactant production using fed-batch fermentation for effective heavy crude oil recovery

In an advanced fed-batch culture strategy, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Starmerella bombicola isolated from the oil field were used to substantially increase the production of rhamnolipids and sophospholipids. The resulting biosurfactants were combined with tert-octylphenoxy polyethoxyethanol to form robust complexes for enhancing oil recovery.

Our Services for Fermentation Production of Biosurfactants

BOC Sciences provides fermentation CDMO service for biosurfactants. With our complete quality management system and strong fermentation capabilities, we are able to help customers facilitate their fermentation related projects and support them from laboratory to commercialization.

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  1. Care, C. Biosurfactants Using Yeasts Forming Nanocapsule Liposomes Suitable For Use As Moisturisers and Cosmetics At One Tenth The Cost Of Natural Ceramides. AZoNano. 2006.
  2. Liepins, J.; et al. Glycolipid Biosurfactant Production from Waste Cooking Oils by Yeast: Review of Substrates, Producers and Products. Fermentation. 2021. 7(3): 136.

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