Surfactants can be broadly defined as molecules that consist of one hydrophilic portion and one hydrophobic portion. The majority of surfactants are made using petroleum ingredients, which is a non-renewable resource. Many of these traditional surfactants are experiencing a significant increase in regulatory scrutiny worldwide, due to their poor biodegradability and questionable toxicity profiles. Consequently, alternatives (known generically as Green Surfactants) to traditional surfactants are being developed worldwide as replacements in many applications.
Green Surfactants are made entirely from renewable resources, and are commonly referred to as glycolipids, and they are readily biodegradable and exhibit low-toxicity. GlycoSurf’s green surfactants are made using a variety of carbohydrates (sugars) for the hydrophilic moiety, and a variety of natural fats and oils for the hydrophobic portion of the target molecule. All of GlycoSurf’s starting materials for the production of our green surfactants are sourced from renewable resources. A few of GlycoSurf’s materials are currently available for purchase including: rhamnolipids, rhamnosides, and other glycolipid surfactants.
Rhamnose sugar is a naturally occurring sugar that is generally classified as either a methyl-pentose or a 6-deoxy-hexose. Rhamnose is one of the few sugars found in nature in L-form, i.e. L-rhamnose. Rhamnose can be isolated from Buckthorn (Rhamnus), poison sumac, and plants in the genus Uncaria. Rhamnose is also produced by microalgae belonging to the Bacillariophyceae. Rhamnose exhibits some very unique properties as a carbohydrate, for example rhamnose has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and skin soothing properties. The claim is that rhamnose has been clinically proven to improve skin rejuvenation at the source; improving collagen production, elastin production and cellular turnover.
Nature takes advantage of the unique properties of rhamnose through the production of green surfactants known as rhamnolipids from the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Rhamnolipids, are naturally occurring biosurfactants containing L-rhamnose and β-hydroxydecanoic acid. There are however significant drawbacks to Nature’s method of producing rhamnose based green surfactants. GlycoSurf employs a proprietary process for the synthetic production of a wide variety of rhamnose based green surfactants that overcome all of the challenges found in nature for the production of green surfactants. GlycoSurf’s rhamnose based green surfactants offer many advantages compared to traditional biosynthetic rhamnose green surfactants, as highlighted below. Since, GlycoSurf does not rely on the use of bacteria to manufacture its rhamnose based green surfactants, such as rhamnolipids and rhamnosides, our materials are lower cost, more scalable, and highly tailorable for specific applications.
In recent years, science has demonstrated many ways to attach a natural fat or oil to a carbohydrate to form surfactants known generally as glycolipids. Carbohydrates such as sucrose, glucose, and sorbitol are the most abundant sugars available for production of glycolipid surfactants. In fact, glycolipids such as sorbitan esters, sucrose esters, and alkyl polyglycosides (APGs) are currently the industrial leaders in production capacity for green surfactants. GlycoSurf, in contrast, is more focused on glycolipid surfactants made from carbohydrates that have rare or unique properties, in which novel green surfactants can be created to exploit these unique properties.