Chemical surfactants represent a major component used in a large number of industrial applications. The worldwide market for such products exceeds $28 billion. While the demand for such products stems from their efficiency and relatively low cost, they are often toxic. Biosurfactants, amphipathic products of biological origin, have generated wide interest as possible nontoxic alternatives. Many of these materials are produced by microorganisms as fermentation products. Such products generally can be subdivided according to their size and molecular weight. The low-molecular-weight biosurfactants, such as glycolipids, lipopeptides, fatty acids, and alcohols, are effective in lowering surface and interfacial tension. Amphipathic polymeric biosurfactants (APBs), represented primarily by the emulsan bioemulsifier, preferentially orient themselves at oil-water interfaces, thereby preventing droplet coalescence. APBs generally consist of both polysaccharide and a protein component, which confer hydrocarbon substrate specificity to the emulsifier. Here, we describe the chemical, biological, and some of the engineering aspects associated with biosurfactant production, formulation, and potential applications. In addition, we present new evidence on the role of emulsification-enhancing proteins (EEPs) and their ability to interact with and, thus, to transform biopolymers into APBs by generating engineered protein-polymeric complexes (EEPOSANS). Several applications and strategies to lower cost of biosurfactant production and formulation are also considered.
|Title of host publication||Industrial Biotechnology and Commodity Products|
|Number of pages||17|
|State||Published - 9 Sep 2011|