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Bench to Pilot Scale: Scaling Up Waste-Derived Biosurfactants

The chemical industry is the largest industry-based energy consumer and produces 6% of Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions. As society has amplified its interest towards natural ingredients, the petrochemical industry is transitioning towards a renewable, bio-based economy. It is with this in mind that Dispersa, a CleanTech startup, was launched in 2019. Our mission is to contribute to a sustainable future by revitalizing the chemical industry with natural alternatives. There are specific ingredients called surfactants that are considered the most versatile chemical compounds. They are found at the heart of many products that we use, such as the soapy products we use to clean our hands and surfaces each day during this pandemic. The surfactant industry represents a growing market valued at nearly $60 billion CAD with over 20 million tonnes being produced annually. Currently, most surfactants are synthetic and derived from nonrenewable petroleum sources. On the other hand, there are natural biosurfactants which exist but they are costly and lack a range in options. At Dispersa, we aim to address this gap by harnessing the power of microbes to convert food waste into natural and cost-effective biosurfactants. These biosurfactants reduce reliance on petroleum and palm sectors, while also diverting food waste, thereby contributing to a truly circular biosurfactant production process. Our biosurfactants can be used in diverse applications, such as cleaning products, cosmetics, agriculture, remediation, and more. Dispersa's vision is to collaborate with end users in various industries, starting with the consumer packaged goods (CPG) market, to create sustainable change one microbe at a time. Since inception of Dispersa, the team has been advancing on developing a novel waste-to-value production process to scale biosurfactants intended initially for the cleaning products market. To date, they have already developed a proof of concept at lab-scale and look forward to scaling up this process to the pilot scale (up to 2000L) over the next two years. In parallel to technological development, Dispersa has secured commercial interest from recognized national and multinational brands within the cleaning and personal care markets who are looking to achieve greater sustainability in their products. As such, the upcoming scale-up highlighted in this proposed project will be an important aspect in ensuring
sufficient delivery of biosurfactant volumes for Dispersa’s first client and clients to come. This project will establish itself as the first commercial-level biosurfactant manufacturing capacity in Quebec (and Canada) of its kind, thereby unlocking a made-in-Quebec solution to ensure local supply of biosurfactants. With CRIBIQ’s support, we can make a sustainable future possible today by delivering nature-based solutions one microbe at a time.

Yacine Boumghar

Directeur de projets

CRIBIQ's contribution

$ 590 055


Industrial participants :

Dispersa Inc

*Quebec public research institutes :

Centre d’études des procédés chimiques du Québec (CÉPROCQ)

Collège de Maisonneuve