t the Eco Technology Research Center in their Wakayama, Japan plant, Kao Corporation’s algal researchers have succeeded in finding enzymes that can produce a large number of medium chain fatty acids – the main components of natural fats and oils which are raw materials for surfactants in detergents, shampoos, and other related products.
This finding presents a strong possibility that Kao could acquire a non-edible raw material source of fats and oils that is natural and not consumed as food. The company will pursue the technological development for the production of fats and oils from algae with the aim of commercial production.
The potential for algae to produce fats and oils is, according to the company, more than ten times that of such natural resources as palm. Surfactants in detergents and shampoos and the base substances of various raw materials are C12 to 14 medium chain fatty acids.
The company found some algal strains that contained a large number of C12 medium chain fatty acids through research activity on biotechnologies involving enzymes for detergents.
Additionally, the company identified a novel acyl-ACP thioesterase with high specificity to medium chain fatty acids from the genus Nannochloropsis. Kao expects that these findings will dramatically accelerate the breeding development of algae for large-scale production of medium chain fatty acids.
These results were presented at the 1st Asian Conference on Oleo Science in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, the first conference of this kind in the entire Asian region, organized by Japan Oil Chemists’ Society.