US speciality chemical company Locus Fermentation Solutions (Locus FS) has secured an investment of US$117M to expand its biosurfactant business.

The financial backing came in the form of an unusual loan that uses Locus’s intellectual property (IP), including more than 1,300 patents, as collateral, according to a report by Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN).

Using custom microbial fermentation to produce speciality surfactants, most of Locus’ products are based on sophorolipids, biosurfactants with hydrophilic sophorose sugar heads and a range of hydrophobic fatty acid tails, C&EN wrote on 20 April.

Locus chairman and CEO Andy Lefkowitz was quoted as saying the loan would help the company triple its overall factory space to 14,000m3 at its headquarters site in Solon, Ohio, and at other locations.

“Through scientific breakthroughs backed by intellectual property, strategic funding and corporate partnerships, we’re accelerating the… role customised biologicals can play in advancing decarbonisation and ESG [environmental, social and governance] goals,” Lefkowitz said.

Organised as a holding company with operating companies focused on different markets, Lefkowitz said the firm’s fastest-growing market was oil drilling and mining.

One of the companies, Locus Performance Ingredients, recently signed a pact with Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions to develop water and wastewater treatment products based on sophorolipids, C&EN wrote. Locus also has a deal under which Dow is the exclusive supplier of Locus’ sophorolipids in the home care and personal care markets.

Established in 2013, Locus FS produces alternatives to chemicals for the agriculture, CPG, energy, industrial, mining and other sectors from 100% renewable agricultural resources.