Sasol and Holiferm expand collaboration to produce and market fermentation-derived biosurfactants; companies will develop sophorolipids, a fermentation-derived biosurfactant product, in addition to rhamnolipids and mannosylerythritol lipids

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January 25, 2023 (press release) –

Hamburg, Germany – Holiferm Limited and Sasol Chemicals, a business unit of Sasol Ltd. (JSE: SOL; NYSE: SSL), announced today a collaboration to produce and market rhamnolipids and mannosylerythritol lipids (MELs). This collaboration expands the partnership announced in March 2022 between the two companies to develop and commercialise another biosurfactant product, sophorolipids. 

The partnership will use Holiferm’s proprietary technology to develop the fermentation-derived biosurfactants. Sasol and Holiferm will develop and commercialise formulations and applications for the new molecules.

Biosurfactants use natural materials to produce surfactants, which are key ingredients in detergents, cleaning products and personal care products. Sophorolipids, rhamnolipids and MELs are all glycolipids made through fermentation, using yeast or bacteria to convert vegetable oils and/or sugars into final product. The Holiferm process offers an extensive reduction in carbon footprint compared with conventional surfactants.

 “The imminent commercial launch of our second and third products validates Holiferm’s process to develop process technologies to produce chemicals from natural raw materials and enable their broad commercialisation,” said Vicky De Groof, Chief Technical Officer of Holiferm. “It is also a testament to the exceptional work of the laboratory team.”

“By expanding our product portfolio from sophorolipids to include rhamnolipids and MELs, we aim to provide our customers a platform of solutions based solely on biosurfactants,” said Silke Hoppe, Vice President of Essential Care Chemicals for Sasol Chemicals. “Their carbon footprint as well as their mildness and high performance places these products in a leading position in today’s biosurfactant market.”

Since March 2022, Sasol and Holiferm have collaborated on research and development into accelerating innovation to help meet the growing demand for sustainable solutions in primary surfactants. This has now been expanded to include developing processes to manufacture rhamnolipids and MELs. The companies’ joint aspiration is to prepare for testing at pilot plant scale, before they begin a full manufacturing process at Holiferm’s Wallasey plant.


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