Fruity feedstocks for IB
When citrus fruits are juiced, oil is pressed out of the rind. This oil contains a chemical called limonene. It is estimated that the citrus fruits processing industry generates 50,000 to 75,000 tons of limonene each year. German researchers have found that the limonene can be used as a feedstock for biotechnological processes to produce perillic acid. Perillic acid is a limonene metabolite which is largely used in the ‘natural’ cosmetics industry as a preservative due to its anti-microbial features, even at low concentrations.
Limonene is easily accessible and cheap. The product derived from the bioconversion of limonene, perillic acid, can be sold at 300-600€ per kilo depending on its purity. Perillic acid has the potential to replace fossil-based preservatives in pharmaceutical and cosmetic formulations, and it can also provide solutions for paint and coatings as well as the aromatics industry. Using limonene as a raw material for industrial biotechnology processes thus provides both economic and environmental benefits.
“Perillic acid is a promising, naturally occurring chemical used for example in the cosmetics industry as an antimicrobial compound. Unfortunately, it can only be found in some plants in minor quantities. Thanks to industrial biotechnology, perillic acid can now be efficiently produced at large-scale through microbes feeding on limonene, an abundant byproduct of the citrus fruits processing industry.” Prof. Schrader, Dechema Research Institute and head of the project