AbstractA Swiss academic research laboratory has elaborated a specific protocol to produce new performance chemicals (biosurfactants) based on renewable resources. The innovation relies on the special application of lipases for inverse hydrolysis. It allows the elaboration of products that comply with new EU regulations such as REACH. The laboratory, focused on enzymatic catalysis of surfactants, is looking for collaboration with companies to develop new applications in that field.
DetailsIndustries producing or using performing chemicals such as surfactants are currently facing a challenge to comply with new regulations such as REACH (Registration Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). Actually REACH is the new European legislation for Chemicals, aiming at improving the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances.
Invert hydrolysis (esterification) by lipases can be used to synthesise compounds that comply with REACH regulation. The Swiss research laboratory has elaborated a protocol for the application of lipases to inverse hydrolysis. This constitutes a technology for the esterification of alcohols with carboxylic acids and allows to synthesize more structured products than with standard chemical synthesis. This “in house” protocol has been already successfully used to develop such compounds for industrial partners.
The laboratory is able to selectively derivatize in a regioselective manner a glucose molecule at the O-6 hydroxyl group, without any protection of the other hydroxyl substituent (see Figure).
Lipase mediated esterification allows the functionalisations of primary and secondary alcohols with carboxylic acids or activated esters. The laboratory has a high level know-how in the biotransformation of mono-, di- and polysaccharides with fatty acids reaching conversions up to 88%
Derivatisation of biopolymers and the synthesis of polyesters is possible as well. Thus the technique provides the possibility to produce new chemicals based on renewable resources and not on oil. Such products are homogeneously structured in general. Small biopolymers may also be produced with novel properties.
Studies have proven that less synthetic steps are often needed using biotransformations than for transformation used for existing standard products and that generated wastes are non toxic. Both advantages may reduce the cost of production by up to 50 %. The technique is considered green since biological molecules are transformed by biocatalysts.
The laboratory offers:
Screening of lipases to find the best fit for given substrates
Biosurfactant production for further testing
Screening of lipases in novel solvents like ionic liquids
Derivatisation of given biopolymers by various substituent
Application of activated esters for the synthesis of fine chemicals
Polyesterification for the production of oligomers.
Esterification by inverse hydrolysis with lipases replaces chemically catalysed reactions. The advantage is that selectivity is much higher than with traditional methods (conversions up to 88%). When applied to multifunctional products it is possible to work without protection group chemistry. The proof of concept has been done and the method can be used in different fields like Chemical, Agro, Food, Detergent, Textile, and Pulp &Paper Industry. Moreover it can be considered green, sustainable and economic.
•While using such enzyme catalysis it is possible to work at lower temperatures than with many standard processes, which reduces energy consumption and costs.
•The methodology produces no toxic waste.