Introducing the 'soap' grown from bacteria

Scientists have discovered how to make fully biodegradable biosurfactants from bacteria

Most people consider soap to be an effective means of removing bacteria from their skin. However, a group of scientists has flipped this concept on its head by discovering a way to create soap from bacteria.

TeeGene Biotech, a Teesside University venture, has developed a way to create biosurfactants, which act like soap and help to emulsify different liquids, from strains of bacteria.

The biosurfactants created can be manufacturerd in a lab and are said to be fully biodegradable, with minimal impact on the environment.

As a result of its innovative discovery, TeeGene Biotech has reached the finals of the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum awards, held on 11 and 12 February.

Dr Pattanathu Rahman, Founding Director of TeeGene Biotech, is a Senior Lecturer in Process Engineering and Biotechnology at Teesside University. He said: “ The levels of purity needed for biosurfactants in the industries in which they’re used is extremely high. Because of this, they can be very expensive. However, the methods we have of producing them, make it much more economical and cost efficient. It’s a very exciting technology with tremendous potential for applications in a range of industries.”

Other uses include oil recovery, reducing pollution and food processing. TeeGene Biotech was formed in December 2014 and is based in the Wilton Centre at Redcar.