Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kao Conducts Studies on Advanced Effective Use of Non-edible Raw Materials

In Research on Algae, Kao Finds Some Strains That Produce Medium Chain Fatty Acids, and Identifies Enzyme That Play an Important Role in the Biosynthesis Pathway

With the aim of contributing to the sustainability of society, Kao Corporation (President and CEO: Michitaka Sawada) promotes research activities for forward-looking environmental technologies, centering on advanced use of biomass, at the Eco Technology Research Center in the Wakayama Plant. In the research on algae, which is one of the major themes in this field, the company succeeded to find enzyme that can produce a large number of medium chain fatty acids-the main components of natural fats and oils (e.g. palm kernel oils and coconut oils), which are raw materials for surfactants in detergents, shampoos, and other related products. This finding presented a strong possibility that Kao, as a world pioneer, 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 technical production.

Reportedly, potential for algae to produce fats and oils is more than ten times that of such natural resources as palm. In recent years, many research cases are reported on production of fats and oils, containing C16 to 18 fatty acids as a main component, to acquire new raw materials for fuels (biofuels) in replacement of fossil fuels. However, surfactants in detergents and shampoos and the base substances of various raw materials are C12 to 14 medium chain fatty acids. Therefore, the conventional scope of research on algae could not have been sufficiently applied.

The company found some strains that contained a large number of C12 medium chain fatty acids in C12 to 14 medium chain fatty acids through research activity on biotechnologies, which evolved from technologies involving enzymes for detergents. Additionally, as a first in the field of algae, 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 will be presented at the 1st Asian Conference on Oleo Science (September 8 to 10, 2014; Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan; organized by Japan Oil Chemists' Society), the first conference of this kind in the entire Asian region.

About Kao

Kao creates high-value-added products to help consumers around the world enrich their everyday lives. Over 20 leading brands such as Asience, Attack, Bioré, Goldwell, Jergens, John Frieda, Kanebo, Laurier, Merries and Molton Brown are part of the lives of people in Asia, Oceania, North America and Europe and help generate about 1,300 billion yen (about $US13 billion) in annual sales. Kao employs about 35,000 people worldwide and has more than 120 years of history in innovation. Please visit the Kao group web site for updated information.

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