APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Food products
- Water and wastewater treatment
- Significantly lowers the costs of product recovery from cyanobacterial production strains
- Self-aggregating properties of the material streamline the processes of flocculation and clarification
- Enables novel encapsulation and drug formulation processes and products
- Existing commercialized bacterial exopolysaccharides include xanthan and gellan, both heavily used in the food industry with xanthan production exceeding 20,000 tons/year. Other gel-forming polysaccharides include gelatin and chitosan; as both are derived from animal products, there is a significant market for non-animal derived alternatives. Certain polysaccharides, including chitosan, form gels at low pH, but there have been no documented reports of polysaccharides (including commercial and non-commercial materials) that remain in solution at low and neutral pH with spontaneous gel formation at high pH.
Researchers at Berkeley Lab led by Deepti Tanjore and researchers at HelioBioSys have developed a method of producing a polysaccharide gel from cyanobacterial slurries that contain <1% solids concentration. Notably, they discovered a cyanobacterial polysaccharide with the unique property of undergoing gel transition at pH greater than 10.5.
Polysaccharides were separated via gel formation in a two-step process that involved centrifugation and pH adjustment. Use of pH adjustment to harvest polysaccharides streamlines recovery, lowering the cost of materials for a variety of applications. Such a reduction in the product recovery cost would overcome a major scale-up hurdle and enable new avenues for commercialization.
Gel formation catalyzed by shifts in pH is a property that has not been previously described in the scientific literature. This characteristic holds potential industrial applications in two key areas: 1) improved recovery of polysaccharides from saline aqueous solutions and 2) use of spontaneous, pH-triggered gel formation for applications such as encapsulation, drug delivery, and coatings.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle
STATUS: Published U. S. Patent Application 15/943,597 (Publication US2018-0282826).
OPPORTUNITIES: Available for licensing or collaborative research.