Functional Biopolymers

The Biopolymer Network is aware that the search for bio-based materials for personal care applications is becoming more important due to a global move away from using non-renewable resources and environmentally damaging, chemical-based production methods. Therefore it has focused on eco-friendly methods of extracting biopolymers from natural materials as an alternative to synthetically derived molecules. Over millions of years, plants have evolved natural protection mechanisms from external factors such as ultraviolet light and micro-organisms. The aim of this research is to transfer these properties Natural extracts have the potential to outperform synthetics in their functionality. Based on materials from plants we have developed products that can compete in applications for cosmetics, adhesives, coatings and plastic additives.

In this area, BPN are looking at the functional potential of starches and proteins extracted from cereals – such as oats and the ancient grain, amaranth – in personal care products. These functional proteins and starches could be used as emulsifiers, antioxidants, moisturisers or foamers in skin and hair products. Extracted tannins are also showing good potential in a number of areas, both in personal care and for use in industrial applications.

The BPN already has a patented, water-based extraction technology for separating proteins from starches in amaranth and other grains. Further research is focused on modifying resultant materials to make functional bio-based ingredients for personal care formulations.

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