Biotechnology Letters

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 187–195 | Cite as

Foam mitigation and exploitation in biosurfactant production

  • J. B. Winterburn
  • P. J. MartinEmail author


Biosurfactants could potentially outperform traditional surfactants in many applications whilst being more sustainable to source, manufacture, use and dispose of. However, currently available fermentation production methods are too inefficient to manufacture biosurfactants for these high volume markets. Foaming in an inherent issue with biosurfactant production and adds significantly to the cost of production using traditional unit operations. This review illustrates how the application of process engineering has enabled nuisance foaming to be transformed into a cost saving feature of the production system. The scope of biosurfactants and their application is discussed and the fundamentals of foam generation and control are reviewed. The range of specific phenomena associated with the interaction of foams with bioproducts is assessed. Finally, recent work which has aimed at taking advantage of some of these phenomena in order to intensify the biosurfactant production process is discussed in detail.


Biosurfactant Foam fractionation Separation White biotechnology 



The authors gratefully acknowledge support through an EPSRC PhD Plus award which facilitated this review.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical ScienceThe Mill, The University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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