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Oil production innovation: potential to change the industry?

By Lucy Whitehouse + , 18-Apr-2017

Oil production innovation: potential to change the industry?

Olixol, a plant culturing and research company, has announced the launch of ‘pioneering’ technology that enables the scalable production of pure, natural oils from plant cells.

The company has entered the market with two products - jojoba oil and borage oil - using its unique, flexible bio-manufacturing platform, which the company says is able to carry out continual production of oil without any agricultural land or harvesting.

The method involves identifying oil-producing cells from non-GMO seeds of the relevant plant, and cultivating these cells to create oil on a mass scale.

The production method is an alternative to traditional oil extraction, uses very little water and is unaffected by weather conditions, the company says.

How does it work?

Using the company’s proprietary media, the oil-producing cells are cultivating and are fed with sugar, light and air to produce oil.

The oil is naturally separated from the cells without the use of high temperatures or chemicals, Olixol says. In contrast to traditional agri-cropping methods of oil production, the process can offer quality consistency, as well as cost stability and scalability.

The oil is cold filtered using a food grade membrane, bottled and nitrogen blanketed. Within hours of being produced, cells are placed in flasks containing the company's proprietary liquid media and then sub-divided repeatedly into vessels of increasing size.

The company’s CEO Tim Merrell told CosmeticsDesign that the new production method holds great potential scope for oils in the cosmetics industry, including increasing the availability of more niche oils.  

Mass production: natural, stable oils

Merrell commented: “Consumers want natural personal care products and, as a result, natural, stable oils command a premium. However, traditional extraction can sometimes change the properties of the oil and adversely affect the precious bio-actives it contains.

“Our patented process is both gentle and natural, occurring at temperatures of less than 30 degrees Celsius, and no solvents or harmful chemicals are used. Our technology offers reliability, purity and sustainability to cosmetics producers looking to meet consumer demands and manage their costs and supply of valued oils.”

Dr Karlheinz Hill, former head of global development at BASF’s personal care division and now, member of Olixol’s advisory board, added: “The potential of Olixol’s new technology is vast. Now it has been well proven with vegetable oils, the team is already working on broadening its application possibilities with new opportunities in personal care and beyond.”

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