Alternatives to petroleum-based ingredients and intermediates are becoming increasingly common, as biotech companies and conventional specialty chemical companies invest in developing and scaling the requisite production methods.
In broad terms, biotech involves adopting and adapting existing biological processes for industrial use. To produce a bio-based ingredient at commercial scale, companies like Genomatica reengineer microorganisms, usually a bacteria, a yeast, or an algae, so that when the microorganism is fed and maintained in a controlled environment the waste product it gives off is the desired molecule.
From there, the product usually goes through several distillation or purification steps to get it to the necessary quality and clarity.
California-based Genomatica got its start nearly two decades ago when the company spun out of the Bioengineering Department of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.
Now, from headquarters in San Diego, the company serves a full spectrum of industries, including automotive, coatings, electronics, packaging, plastics, rubber, textiles, and of course personal care.
Genomatica is manufacturing its butylene glycol for the cosmetics and personal care industry in Germany and in Italy.
And the company is using regionally available sugars as the feedstock: sugar beets in Germany and a blend of corn and wheat in Italy—both with a Dextrose Equivalency of 95, according to Perriman.
The use of renewable feedstocks like corn, wheat, and beets makes biotech ingredients more sustainable than petroleum-based versions. But Perriman is quick to point out that Brontide “is not just a sustainably story.”
He says, that the “ingredient itself…from a purity level is a bit more pure than the butylene glycol already in the marketplace.” He also believes that being “the only producer located in Europe,” will be an advantage for Genomatica and the multinational beauty makers the company serves.
Early formulating efforts have reportedly been quite promising. “Azelis [the European distributor Genomatica is partnered with] has also been actively developing and testing multiple personal care product formulations using Genomatica’s Brontide, including hydra gels, body sprays, and sunscreens," according to a media release about the newly available ingredient. "These have tested well for key formulation attributes such as scent, viscosity, pH and stability.”
At in-cosmetics global next month in Amsterdam, Azelis and Genomatica will be exhibiting at Stand E120.
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.