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In The News: quat alternatives, mineral oil production, and biotech palm oil

Inolex patents hair care ingredients in Brazil and Korea, world's largest all-hydroprocessing white oil unit opens in China, multinational beauty makers team up with Geno on biotech alternative to palm oil

Photo by Takemaru Hirai on Unsplash

🧪🔬 🌏 Green Chem & Global Hair Care

“These markets set the pace for consumer innovation, particularly in scalp and hair care.” Michael J. Fevola, PhD, Vice President of Research & Development at Inolex, is talking about Korea and Brazil, two countries where the ingredient design company just secured patents for its AminoSensyl™ branded advanced conditioning ingredients.


The hair care and treatment ingredients are based on the company’s cationic amino

lipid technology, which (according to Monday’s press release) “incorporates a protonated primary amine derived from 100% biobased amino acid and neutralized with biobased

ethanesulfonic acid resulting in a natural, non-permanent cationic charge.”


The ingredients such as AminoSensyl™ Ultra MB (with the INCI Cetearyl Alcohol and Brassicyl Valinate Esylate) and AminoSensyl™ HC, (INCI Brassica Alcohol and Brassicyl Valinate Esylate) are used in formulation as an alternative to quaternary ammonium compounds, commonly referred to as ‘quats’.


In pursuing these new patents, the team at Inolex was not only looking to influential markets and the swiftly rising hair category but is also hopeful that making this technology widely available will “[help] encourage more sustainable ingredient adoption globally.”


🛢️⛽️💋World's Largest All-Hydroprocessing White Oil Unit

At the end of January, a new processing facility for refined petroleum products came online in Weifang, Shandong Province, China.


The facility is a partnership between Chevron Lummus Global (which is itself a joint venture between Chevron USA Inc. and Lummus Technology) and Hongrun Petrochemical (Weifang) Co., Ltd.


And the story here is both the ‘world’s largest’ bit and the ‘hydroprocessing’ technology. Hydroprocessing was first introduced by Chevron in 1984. What makes it distinctive are the catalysts used to remove sulfur, oxygen, nitrogen and metals during the refining process. The catalysts are noble metals instead of base metals; and the noble metals that Chevron Lummus Global uses have a higher activity at a lower temperature, which facilitates the use of smaller, lower-pressure reactors—all in all a more economical process than refining done with base metals. This according to Chevron Lummus Global.


The Chevron Lummus Global all-hydroprocessing tech being used at the newly operational plant is a two-step process, comprising isodewaxing and isofinishing. The new plant has the capacity to produce 200,000 metric tons per year of food-grade white oil and 500,000 metric tons per year of industrial-grade white oil.


White oil is mineral oil; it can also be called white mineral oil, paraffin oil, or liquid paraffin. And with the INCI name of Paraffinum Liquidum (Paraffin oil), it is used as a cosmetic and personal care ingredient. The highly refined oil also has applications in pharma, in food processing, and in the industrial lubricants sector.


“We are proud to have worked with Hongrun on this project,” says Arun Arora, Chevron Lummus Global’s Chief Technology Officer, in his recent remarks to the press; “and we have full confidence that this new unit will propel them to the forefront as a leading manufacturer of premium white oil and food-grade white oil products in China.”

🌴💋DIY Palm Oil

As January came to an end, Unilever, L’Oréal, and Kao launched a joint venture to produce and commercialize drop-in alternatives to common cosmetic, personal care, and cleaning product ingredients.




The palm oil (derivatives) supply chain is notoriously difficult to trace; and all too often sourcing directly impacts climate change (through deforestation and emissions), diminishes biodiversity (destroying the habitats of orangutan and other species), and violates human rights.


Biotech, fermentation in particular, seems to be the best solution we have right now. “By establishing such new supply chains that are traceable and transparent, we will further promote responsible raw material sourcing,” says Masahiro Katayose Senior Executive Officer and President of the Chemical Business at Kao, in a release publicizing the launch of Future Origins.


The beauty makers and their biotech partner announced the launch of the joint venture Future Origins at the American Cleaning Institute's Innovation Showcase on January 31. Geno is the majority owner of Future Origins, while the beauty makers involved are financial bakers.


A first commercial facility is expected to go on line  before 2029. And construction is expected to start next year. So far, Future Origins has “completed [several] 63,000-liter pilot-scale fermentation runs [and] produced several tons of material,” according to the release. Some of that was processed into detergent alcohols. And the venture’s commercial partners are working with the ingredients now, gathering data that will help scale production over the next 5 (or fewer) years.


The key to these types of biotechnology processes are patented micro-organisms that are fed some sort of sugar and, through their metabolic process of fermentation, generate the desired molecule. The micro-organisms are sometimes called ‘designer’ or are said to have undergone ‘editing’; but basically, they’ve been tweaked so that the waste they would naturally produce is of value to industry.


“We look forward to meeting and working with industry partners interested in gaining early access to these sustainable products and reserving capacity in the commercial scale plant, says Dr. Priti Pharkya, Senior Vice President of Business Operations at Future Origins, in her remarks to the press. Pharkya began working with Geno(matica) over 18 years ago as a research scientist and taken on increasing responsibility, most recently as the company’s Senior Vice President of Ventures and Corporate Development.


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