A team of scientists, coordinated by Professor Stephen Euston at Heriot-Watt University, is tackling sustainability issues by using natural ingredients produced by marine microbes as alternatives to the chemical agents currently used.
Their work is focused on everyday items like foods, pharmaceuticals, and beauty products.
The huge market demand for surfactants and emulsifiers is currently met with synthetic, mainly petroleum-based chemical products.
Surfactants are used to reduce surface tension, as in detergents, dispersants, and foaming agents, whereas emulsifiers can be added to stabilise oil in processed foods or cosmetic creams.
These are commonly non-biodegradable and can be toxic.
Led by demand from industry manufacturers keen to find more sustainable sources, the MARISURF Consortium, funded by Horizon2020 and led by Heriot-Watt University, has unveiled promising alternatives found in marine microorganisms.
Professor Euston (pictured) said: “The research has the potential to positively impact the food industry.
“We are working with Marlow foods to help them remove egg whites from their range, thus opening up more of their products to those following a Vegan diet.
“The current egg white replacements on the market are not suitable for all products. Our new strain isn’t affected by some of the issues encountered with other protein sources and is suitable for Vegans as it is not animal derived.”