Quebec start-up commercializing biosurfactant production

Dispersa recently launched and is perparing for commercial production of PuraSurf, its first biosurfactant product line for the cleaning and personal care market.

As the most versatile ingredient in the chemical industry, surfactants have numerous applications and are the active components in many everyday products like detergents, creams, and hand soaps. However, most are currently manufactured from petroleum or palm-oil with a negative socio-environmental impact.

Biosurfactants can replace these conventional surfactants, but cost remains a hurdle. By introducing waste-derived biosurfactants, Dispersa aims to further reduce the environmental impact and cost of these key ingredients.

Replacing food grade feedstock

To produce biosurfactants, microbes must be fed various materials like oils and sugars – currently done with food-grade feedstock. Dispersa has developed a proprietary process, called BioEterna, that instead converts food waste into circular biosurfactants. PuraSurf represents a sustainable alternative to both current biosurfactants, and conventional surfactants used in cleaning and personal care.

“From the beginning, it has been our priority as a CleanTech startup to develop green ingredients in a green manner. We crafted our process based on circular economy principles, to reduce our dependence on natural resources such as palm or petroleum,” said Nivatha Balendra, founder and CEO of Dispersa.

“By instead valorizing the abundance of food waste around us, we can ensure that neither affordability nor sustainability are compromised for one another.”

On January 20, 2022, Dispersa was named one of 18 semi-finalists selected in the Food Waste Reduction Challenge (Novel Technologies Stream), funded through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. This challenge promotes technologies that can transform food waste, surplus food, or food by-products into new food or other value-added products.

Launched in 2019, Dispersa is the first company in Canada developing biosurfactant manufacturing capacity. The startup strives to reduce society’s dependence on fossil-fuel and palm-derived chemicals by providing sustainable alternatives.