Natural cleaning power
Even though natural, sustainable products are in high demand among cosmetics users, no one wants to sacrifice product efficacy. Once in a while, however, manufacturers pull off what seems like squaring a circle—and RHEANCE® One is one example of that. The Personal Care Business Line at Evonik has launched the first of its glycolipid products, opening up a new dimension in gentle yet effective skin and hair cleansing.
While the glycolipid used is produced in nature by a bacterium commonly found in soil and bodies of water, scientists were still a long way from fermentative production of the raw cosmetic material with its unusual property profile. It was a journey that lasted several years and required the expertise of an exceptionally wide range of Evonik specialists.
Creavis laid the foundation in Marl, where molecular biologists successfully transferred the metabolic pathway to a harmless bacterium that could be readily used in industrial processes. The organism was then modified to use sugar as its sole source of carbon. As a result, the process does not require the use of tropical oils—a major advantage when it comes to sustainability. A considerable portion of the development work then consisted of optimizing the biocatalyst and the broader process conditions to produce the desired product extremely efficiently.
When it came to scaling up from the laboratory to production, the biggest issue that confronted the fermentation experts at Nutrition & Care in Halle-Künsebeck was foaming. The final product needed to foam well, because foam is an important factor in consumers’ perception of how a product like shampoo performs. Foam, however, is highly disruptive in a bioreactor—a problem that the experts were able to resolve through strict process control. The finishing touches were put on the manufacturing process at Fermas in Slovakia.
As the name suggests, this product will not be the last in the series. Scientists are already hard at work on more glycolipids and on optimizing the biocatalyst—work that, in some cases, is being conducted at Creavis, with the aim of tapping into higher-volume applications for glycolipids.