During the first reporting period Sep 15 through to Feb 17) , the MARISURF team has developed an innovative screening programme to identify surfactants from a large bacterial collection (greater than 500 strains) housed at HWU.
The industrial partners have identified the desirable properties for the bio-surfactants and to date 350 of the bacterial strains have been screened by HWU and 61 (19%) have been identified with promising properties that could potentially be used to replace the current mainly petroleum-based, chemical products. 42 strains have been forwarded to LEITAT and ULSTER (with another 14 ready for shipping) and 10 polymers have been extracted and analysed.
LEITAT and ULSTER have been working to optimise the fermentation process at laboratory scale of the most promising candidates. To date, LEITAT has been concentrating on strains with promising emulsion and gel forming characteristics. Ulster are determining suitable substrate concentration and growth conditions (temperature, pH, aeration rate, agitation rate, feed rate) for enhanced biosurfactant production where strains have been selected based on their ability to reduce surface tension.