O4S – Organic for surfactants

The project "Organic for surfactants (O4S)" aims to develop a sustainable alternative for surfactants produced chemically and mostly from crude oil. Under the leadership of Dr. Ana Lucia Vasquez-Caicedo (Fraunhofer IGB), sustainable biological surfactants are to be produced which meet market requirements and can be certified as biologically produced at the same time. The interdisciplinary project includes work along the entire process chain: from the provision of suitable organic raw materials, preferably from waste streams, through process development for surfactant production, product processing and characterization, to the integration of the biosurfactants into natural cosmetic products.


Within the project, the Industrial Biotechnology Group of the Fraunhofer IGB is working on the establishment and optimization of a fermentation process for the production of the biosurfactants mannosylerythritol lipid (MEL) and cellobiose lipid (CL). These biosurfactants are glycolipids, which show promising product properties and are produced by the burn fungi Pseudozmya sp. and Ustilago maydis.

One goal of the project is the use of waste streams from organic agriculture as substrate for the fermentation process to replace conventional substrates such as glucose and/or vegetable oils. In the course of the research work, different process parameters as well as a selection of substrates will be evaluated. The main goal is to achieve high space-time yields, so that a sustainable industrial concept can be developed which is economically and technically feasible.

Project information


January 2012 – December 2014


Project partners

  • The International Natural and Organic Cosmetics Association (Natrue SME Association/Grouping, Belgium)
  • Naturland - Verband für ökologischen Landbau e. V. (SME Association/Grouping, Germany)
  • Green Sugar GmbH. Produktinnovationen aus Biomasse
  • Farfalla Essentials AG (Switzerland)
  • Grüne Erde GmbH (Austria)
  • Biotrend - Inovação e Engenharia em Biotecnologia, SA (Portugal)
  • Vlaamse instelling voor technologisch onderzoek (Belgium)
  • Cremer Oleo GmbH & CO. KG (Germany)
  • Insitut Dr. Schrader Creachem GmbH (Germnay)
  • Asociación Riojana Profesional de Agricultura Ecológica (Spain)
  • Cevre Koruma ve Arastirma Vakfi CEVKOR (Turkey)
  • Steven Abbott TCNF (UK)


The research activities leading to results in this project will be funded under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union pursuant to Grant Agreement No 286859.

flag eu