Living Reference Work Entry

Consequences of Microbial Interactions with Hydrocarbons, Oils, and Lipids: Production of Fuels and Chemicals

Part of the series Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology pp 1-37

Date: Latest Version

Rhamnolipids: Production, Performance, and Application

  • Till TisoAffiliated withiAMB – Institute of Applied Microbiology, ABBt – Aachen Biology and Biotechnology, RWTH Aachen University
  • , Stephan ThiesAffiliated withInstitut für Molekulare Enzymtechnologie, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
  • , Michaela MüllerAffiliated withFraunhofer – Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology
  • , Lora TsvetanovaAffiliated withInstitute for Food and Resource Economics, Chair for Technology and Innovation Management in Agribusiness, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
  • , Laura CarraresiAffiliated withInstitute for Food and Resource Economics, Chair for Technology and Innovation Management in Agribusiness, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
  • , Stefanie BröringAffiliated withInstitute for Food and Resource Economics, Chair for Technology and Innovation Management in Agribusiness, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
  • , Karl-Erich JaegerAffiliated withInstitut für Molekulare Enzymtechnologie, Heinrich-Heine-Universität DüsseldorfInstitut für Bio- und Geowissenschaften IBG-1: Biotechnologie, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
  • , Lars Mathias BlankAffiliated withiAMB – Institute of Applied Microbiology, ABBt – Aachen Biology and Biotechnology, RWTH Aachen University Email author 

Abstract

A circular bioeconomy requires the use of renewable resources to produce high-value specialty chemicals or pharmaceuticals, and also fine and bulk chemicals. Here, the surfactant market represents an ideal test case, because surfactants can cover diverse product classes ranging from fine to bulk chemicals and thus including large differences in purity and price. Biosurfactants produced by microbes from renewable resources are discussed for decades, and recently, sophorolipids arrived in the market, produced by fermentation of high-performing production strains and combined with simple product purification thus reaching low product prices.

Here, we review the current status of rhamnolipid research and applications. Molecular diversity of rhamnolipids and biochemical pathways involved in their synthesis are presented, and physicochemical parameters governing emulsification, foaming, and other properties of rhamnolipids are summarized, followed by applications in many different industries including the agro and pharma industry. We finish with a patent survey that covers rhamnolipid production and potential applications of these biosurfactants. We also tried to identify knowledge gaps that might limit a more rapid establishment of rhamnolipids in the markets.