UK speciality chemicals firm Croda International announced its acquisition of renewable surfactants developer Enza Biotech AB on 21 July.

“Enza Biotech offers a fantastic opportunity for us to fill an identified technology gap in the surfactants market using natural and renewable raw materials,” Croda chief executive Steve Foots said.

The research enterprise was established in 2012 as a spin-out company from Sweden’s Lund University and is currently focused on the enzymatic production of a novel class of bio-based nonionic surfactants.

“The cosmetics and personal care sector are large consumers of nonionic surfactants, and today there is a clear trend towards more green and sustainable cosmetics and personal care products,” the company said.

“Existing green surfactant technologies fulfil part of the demand but there is a need for new and innovative solutions that provide the right functional performance and at the same time are green and biodegradable.

“The oligomeric alkylglycosides (OLMAG surfactants) produced by Enza have longer hydrophilic headgroups with between 3-20 glucose units instead of the normally found 1-2 glucose units in commercially available alkylglycosides.”

By extending the headgroup, a longer alkyl chain length could be used without running into problems with insolubility.

Enza said that since longer alkyl chain lengths were related to less irritation and milder features, they had an advantage in applications that came into contact with the human body, such as cosmetics and personal care products.

“Moreover, the extended headgroup of the OLMAG surfactants have given them new and improved functionalities in, for example, the area of wetting and dispersion.”

The surfactants were also interesting pharmaceutical formulators searching for a more chemically stable alternative to ethoxylated polysorbates, Enza added.

Croda produces and and sells speciality chemicals for a range of industries including health and beauty, engine lubricants and plastics.

It uses a small volume of palm oil, palm kernel oil and their derivatives in its products, and 12 of its manufacturing sites are approved to supply Certified Sustainable Palm Oil derivatives in line with Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) guidelines.

“These certified sites handle more than 99% of our palm derivative volumes and have enabled us to meet our initial corporate target to have RSPO certification of all our relevant supply chains by the end of 2015,” Croda said.
“Our continued programme for conversion is intended to only supply RSPO certified palm oil derived finished products by 2017.”