- Food products
- Water and wastewater treatment
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory led by Deepti Tanjore and researchers at HelioBioSys have developed a method of producing a polysaccharide gel comprising: (a) culturing or growing a cyanobacterium or a mixture of cyanobacteria species in a medium under conditions such that the cyanobacterium or the mixture of cyanobacteria species produces a polysaccharide or a mixture of polysaccharides, (b) optionally separating the polysaccharide or the mixture of polysaccharides from the medium and/or the cyanobacterium or the mixture of cyanobacteria species, and (c) increasing the pH of the polysaccharide or the mixture of polysaccharides such that the polysaccharide or the mixture of polysaccharides forms a gel. The increased pH value can equal more than between 9.0 and 11.5. The polysaccharide gel may have a viscosity with a value from about 1000 to about 5000 Pa·s in a stress sweep from about 1 to about 10 Pa.
Existing commercialized bacterial exopolysaccharides include xanthan and gellan, both heavily used in the food industry with xanthan production exceeding 20,000 tons/year. Xanthan and gellan are typically used as thickeners for foods and cosmetics. Other gel-forming polysaccharides include chitosan, gelatin, and agarose. Both gelatin and chitosan are derived from animal products, creating a significant market for non-animal derived alternatives. In addition to use as food thickeners, these materials are used for gel electrophoresis, for drug delivery, for encapsulation of cells and resins, as flocculants, and as biomaterials. Certain polysaccharides, including chitosan, form gels at low pH, but there are 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.
STATUS: Published U. S. Patent Application 15/943,597 (Publication US2018-0282826). Available for licensing or collaborative research.