Smart protein to ease production of food and care formulations

A sustainable, natural surfactant that offers greater manufacturing stability compared with conventional materials could soon be available for use in food, home and personal care products.

Scientists have developed a protein-based product that can improve consistency and stability in emulsions, foams and coatings, among other products.

Their ingredient, an isolated and purified protein that occurs naturally in some foods, can be used to bind together normally immiscible substances.

It has been shown to have performance and stability benefits, and is easier to handle during manufacture than other products in its class, especially fungal hydrophobins. It can help create formulated products that can withstand a range of environmental conditions.

Researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee have developed a sustainable method of producing the protein in friendly bacteria. Other production methods are possible.

The protein’s additional advantages for manufacturers include improved stability and solubility in water-based solutions, and reduced energy use in the supply chain of frozen products. It can also undergo extensive processing without loss of performance.

The ingredient offers many potential applications, limiting the investment risk to businesses. These include controlling the droplet size in emulsions of oil and water; one-step manufacturing of multiple emulsions; and improved texture and reduced ice crystal formation in frozen confectionary.

Developers estimate that products using the ingredient could be on supermarket shelves within three to five years.

The product, known as BslA, was developed with support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Dr Fiona Mitchell, of Research and Innovation Service at the University of Dundee, said: “We believe this product offers a genuine alternative to existing surfactants, from a sustainable source, with improved performance in a range of applications.”

Dr Peter Deakin, of Edinburgh Research and Innovation at the University of Edinburgh, said: “With some truly exciting results in hand, we are now actively seeking partners interested in applying this technology commercially.”

Read more on the BBC news story here.


Edinburgh Research and Innovation

Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI) is a UK leader in commercialising research and entrepreneurship. As the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation (technology transfer) office, ERI seek to promote the University’s world-class research and commercialisation expertise to potential funders, collaborators, licensees or investors. An independent economic impact report revealed that this activity contributes over £164 million annually to the UK economy and supporting nearly 3,000 jobs.

Twitter: @EdinLicensing