École des Bio-Industries

actu solvants verts

Coup de cœur RESEARCH

Spotlight on our expertise in green solvents.

Solvents are essential to many industrial applications (fine chemicals, paints, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and detergents) thanks to their ability to dissolve or dilute other products. Mostly petrochemical, harmful and flammable, they account for almost 29% of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted into the atmosphere, according to the French interprofessional technical center for the study of atmospheric pollution (CITEPA). In addition to their impact on the environment, they are also being criticized for being dangerous in the workplace, with major public health implications. As a result, there is a growing demand for the substitution of petro-sourced molecules in agro-solvents, which combine industrial demands for efficiency with reduced environmental impact.

This is the background to EBInnov® ‘s interest in Deep Eutectic Solvent (DES), and more specifically in the Natural Deep Eutectic Solvent (NaDES) category. Less toxic, easy to prepare and biodegradable, NaDES are composed of pure products such as acids, carbohydrates, alcohols, amines or amino acids, which occur naturally in the intracellular environment of plants or other living organisms. These agro-solvents offer environmental advantages and can replace petrochemical compounds in many fields of application, but they are still struggling to establish themselves on the solvent market, due to the lower performance of the processes that use them. EBInnov® seeks to model their behavior in complex mixtures (liquid-vapor equilibria) in order to optimize their use in production, both in separation and purification processes. In particular, the team of teaching researchers is optimizing the extraction of biosourced molecules from harvested biomass or from polymers produced by fermentation.

In the medium term, EBInnov® is focusing on the extraction of astaxanthin, a high-value-added antioxidant biomolecule used in the synthesis of human health products. The research unit is evaluating the kinetics of extraction stages from microalgae on a laboratory scale, by screening different green solvents, and developing the thermodynamic knowledge needed to improve the process on an industrial scale.

Find out more: Karen SILVA VARGAS – PhD