Bio Surfactants

A group interview with
Croda, Evonik and Solvay

Can you explain the origin of the bio surfactants you offer? What are the challenges and/or the advantages?

Angelina Gossen, Technical Marketing Lead, Croda GmbH: 
Manufacturing our own ethylene oxide from bioethanol at Atlas Point creates a unique opportunity for us to offer 100% renewable, USDA certified 100% bio-based ethoxylated ingredients, as well as ingredients that although not achieving 100%, show a strong improvement in bio-based content. A wide range of our existing ethoxylated materials will convert from petrochemical EO to bio-EO delivering sustainability benefits for us, our customers and consumers. All of the palm based raw materials in the bio-based ECO range are RSPO Supply Chain Certified via Mass Balance.

The manufacture of the ECO range currently uses bioethanol derived from corn feedstock – that can be seen as “biomass sources” in our collateral. Bioethanol significantly increases the bio-based content of our ethoxylated products and reduces reliance on fossil fuels. 

Dr. Alexandra Trambitas, Evonik:
Biosurfactants are a new class of surfactants based on a biotechnological process with very unique properties in terms of performance, formulability, and sustainability. Our REWOFERM biosurfactants are sustainably manufactured via a fermentation process using locally sourced and renewable feedstock as raw material. The use of biogenic carbon requires no petrochemical raw materials or tropical oils. REWOFERM biosurfactants are 100% biodegradable and have a low-impact life cycle.

Caroline Mabille, Global Marketing Manager Beauty Cleansing Solutions & Skin Health, Solvay:
Mirasoft® SL L60 and Mirasoft® SL A60 are 100% bio-based surfactants manufactured through a cost-efficient low energy fermentation process enabling low environmental and carbon footprint. Nutrients used to feed the microorganisms are rapeseed oil and sugar from beetroot. Both nutrients are of European origin and GMO-free. Mirasoft® SL L60 and Mirasoft® SL A60 also come with a very low aquatic toxicity profile. Mirasoft® SL L60 and Mirasoft® SL A60 are also very mild to the skin and to the hair.

Do bio surfactants really reduce the carbon footprint significantly?

Angelina Gossen: 
Our ingredients have a lower carbon footprint than their petro-based versions. This is mainly to do with their manufacturing process. The ECO range are manufactured with renewable energy. Capturing and burning landfill gas avoids the release of methane into the atmosphere. By July 2020 we saved the equivalent of 134,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide by burning landfill gas rather than natural gas. When combined with the reduction in the amount of methane released to the atmosphere, this has avoided the release of 1.15 million tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Performance is identical to petro-based options, so customers can be assured that performance will not be impacted. The only change is a vast improvement in bio-based content.

We have used SimaPro software to model the cradle-to-gate life cycle analysis (LCA) of our ECO product families, focused on the climate change impact category, following the technical specification ISO 14067.

The high proportion of renewable energy available at Atlas Point, along with the use of bio-based EO, leads to a significant reduction in carbon footprint for a typical ECO product family, when compared to traditional ethoxylates made using petrochemical-based EO and without renewable energy.

Alexandra Trambitas: 
Biosurfactants show many advantages in LCA and sustainability compared to conventional surfactants. We view carbon footprint alongside responsible sourcing and biodiversity, so that we have a full picture of how our products fit into a circular economy. REWOFERM biosurfactants have an outstanding sustainability profile thanks to their 100% biodegradability, low aquatic toxicity and responsible feedstock sourcing. They are produced by a biotechnological process, fermentation. Fermentation has many advantages when considering sustainability because it is a process that draws on nature- identical processes to make new products. Furthermore, fermentation can be carried out at a mild temperature using fewer chemicals. Moreover, Evonik's long-term vision is to implement second-generation feedstock possibilities.

Caroline Mabille: 
Being 100% bio-based with local feedstock sources, and manufactured through a low energy fermentation process, Mirasoft® SL L60 and Mirasoft® SL A60 come with a significantly reduced cradle-to-gate carbon footprint versus conventional partially bio-based surfactants obtained by traditional chemical processes. The contribution from biogenic carbon content is the highest for bio-surfactants.

What are some typical applications for bio surfactants?

Angelina Gossen: 
The ECO range has identical performance to the petro-based options. With over 50 products being 100% bio-based, the application range is huge. In Home Care applications they are used for hard surface cleaning, I&I cleaning, laundry applications, air care, vehicle cleaning and automatic dishwash. But those are only a few examples. The 100% bio-based surfactants from Croda are not exclusively for Home Care applications, but are offered in other Croda business sectors, such as Personal Care and Crop Care, as well.

Alexandra Trambitas: 
The outstanding cleaning properties of REWOFERM® biosurfactants make them suitable for use in a broad range of cleaning applications. Our rhamnolipid REWOFERM® RL 100 is especially suitable for the use in laundry detergents due to its multifunctional properties. It can reduce the complexity of cleaning formulations as it can act both as primary and secondary surfactant. Biosurfactants enable innovative formulation concepts combining highest standards of sustainability and performance.

Caroline Mabille: 
Mirasoft® SL L60 and Mirasoft® SL A60 can be used in a wide range of personal care and home care products, such as shampoos, shower gels, facial washes, lotions, creams but also laundry detergents, hand dish washes, surface cleaners. They perform at a broad range of temperature, pH and salinity conditions.

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