Biosurfactants – Nature’s Solution for Today’s Cleaning Challenges


  • Jakob J Mueller Evonik Operations GmbH, Goldschmidtstr. 100, 45127 Essen, Germany
  • Hans H. Wenk Evonik Operations GmbH, Goldschmidtstr. 100, 45127 Essen, Germany





Biodegradable, Biosurfactants, Renewable, Rhamnolipids, Sophorolipids


Biosurfactants are surface active molecules, developed by nature through evolution and naturally produced by different microorganisms. The most prominent examples are rhamnolipids and sophorolipids, molecules which contain hydrophilic sugar head groups and hydrophobic alkyl residues leading to an amphiphilic behavior with unique properties. Recent developments in the field of biotechnology enable the large-scale production of those biological molecules. The raw material basis is 100% renewable since sugars and oils are used as major raw materials. Additionally, biosurfactants are fully biodegradable, which allows the path back into the natural cycles. In comparison to established standard surfactants like SLES/SLS (Sodium laureth (ether) sulfates) or betaines, rhamnolipids are much milder and, at the same time, show similar or even better performance in household or personal care applications. Foam behavior, solubilization and cleaning effectiveness are examples where those natural substances give excellent results compared to the synthetic benchmarks. The commercialization of biosurfactants at industrial scale now offers solutions to consumers seeking sustainable solutions, without compromising performance. Biosurfactants combines both and set a new standard for surfactant applications.




How to Cite

J. J. Mueller, H. H. Wenk, Chimia 2021, 75, 752, DOI: 10.2533/chimia.2021.752.