Galactolipid biosurfactant recovery from green agri-waste

Biosurfactants are a sustainable, environmentally friendly alternative to surfactants produced from petrochemical feed stock by synthetic routes. The most common biosurfactants in commercial production are from microbial sources and include gycolipids such as rhamnolipids and sophorolipids amongst others. These have found application, in particular, in the detergent industries. However, their use in other consumer product industries has been held back because they are either not available at large volume, or in the case of rhamnolipids are produced by organisms that are opportunistic pathogens.
Glycolipids are found in all green plants, and in particular as galactolipids in the thylakoid membrane of the choloroplast. If these galactolipids can be recovered from plant green material at sufficient scale they could be an alternative source of biosurfactants. Galactolipids would be of particular interest to the food industry as they are found naturally in flour, and have been shown to have advantageous functionality in improving the quality of baked cakes and bread.
In this project the aim is to take green plant waste (this could, for example, be leaves from agricultural production, or grass clippings) to establish a lab scale separation and purification protocol(s), to determine the potential yield of galactolipids, and if sufficient yields are achieved to determine some physicochemical properties of the biosurfactants. Functional properties of interest include emulsification, foaming, surface/interfacial tension, cmc and surface rheological properties.

Supervisor name: 
Stephen Euston
Supervisor and Deputy email addresses:
Project location: 
John Muir Building room G24
Deputy name: 
Lydia Campbell/Derek Stewart