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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIO-BASED LUBRICANTS FROM FARM-BASED RAW MATERIALS

Location: Bio-oils Research Unit

Title: Biosurfactants

Author
item Biresaw, Girma

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: August 7, 2012
Publication Date: May 12, 2014
Citation: Biresaw, G. 2014. Biosurfactants. In: Romstead, L.S., editor. Surfactant Science and Technology: Retrospects and Prospects. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 299-331.

Interpretive Summary: The major components of most commodity crops such as corn, soybean, and wheat are starch, protein, and oils. Increased utilization of farm products requires using these components to develop novel products or replacement products for existing petroleum-based products currently on the market. Achieving this goal requires a sustained effort at developing an understanding of their properties, as well as knowledge for modifying and converting them into products competitive in performance and cost. Biosurfactants are one of the most promising value-added products to increase the utilization of farm products. Because of their biological activity, excellent surface properties, and low toxicity, biosurfactants have the potential for applications in a variety of industries, including: agriculture, food, cosmetics/body care, medical, petroleum, cleaning, and environmental remediation. In this work, various efforts at developing biosurfactants from starches, plant proteins, and vegetable oils using chemical, enzymatic, microbial, and a combination of synthetic methods is discussed. Successful development of value-added biosurfacatnts based on these components of corn, soybean, wheat, barley, and other commodity crops will have a positive effect on the farm economy and improve the income of U.S. farmers.

Technical Abstract: Biosurfactants are surfactants whose common feature is biodegradability, which provides them with a major advantage over the majority of surfactants currently in the market. Biosurfactants are produced from a wide range of raw materials, and manufactured using chemical, enzymatic, microbial, and a combination of synthetic methods. Biosurfactants are applied in a variety of products including those used in agriculture (crop protection); foods (additives, processing, preserving, etc.), cosmetics/body care (skin, hair, oral, etc.), medical (antibiotic, anti-tumor, gene therapy, etc.), petroleum (enhanced oil recovery), cleaning (dishwashing and laundary detergents), remediation (contaminated soil, water, beach, etc.). In this chapter, biosurfactants are grouped into two broad categories and discussed. Biosurfactants synthesized from small molecules such as: mono- and di-saccharides, lipids, amino acids, and their combinations are discussed first. Biosurfactants based on farm-based biopolymers such as starches, plant proteins, and vegetable oils are discussed next. Examples of synthesis, structures, and applications of major categories of biosurfactant are given. The surface energies and polarities of farm-based biosurfactants are estimated from analysis of their surface and interfacial properties using existing surface energy models.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014