, Volume 86, Issue 5, pp 1387-1397
Date: 23 Jan 2010

Use of sustainable chemistry to produce an acyl amino acid surfactant

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Surfactants find wide commercial use as foaming agents, emulsifiers, and dispersants. Currently, surfactants are produced from petroleum, or from seed oils such as palm or coconut oil. Due to concerns with CO2 emissions and the need to protect rainforests, there is a growing necessity to manufacture these chemicals using sustainable resources In this report, we describe the engineering of a native nonribosomal peptide synthetase pathway (i.e., surfactin synthetase), to generate a Bacillus strain that synthesizes a highly water-soluble acyl amino acid surfactant, rather than the water insoluble lipopeptide surfactin. This novel product has a lower CMC and higher water solubility than myristoyl glutamate, a commercial surfactant. This surfactant is produced by fermentation of cellulosic carbohydrate as feedstock. This method of surfactant production provides an approach to sustainable manufacturing of new surfactants.