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Optimization of liquid–liquid extraction of biosurfactants from corn steep liquor


In this work, the optimization of the operational conditions for the chloroform-based extraction of surface-active compounds from corn steep liquor (CSL) was carried out and the nutritional properties of the remnant aqueous phase (CSL-less biosurfactant) was evaluated as microbial fermentation medium. The optimal conditions to obtain biosurfactants from CSL were as follows: chloroform/CSL ratio 2 (v/v), 56 °C at extraction times >30 min. At the optima conditions, 100 % of biosurfactant extract can be obtained from CSL, obtaining 12.0 ± 0.5 g of biosurfactant extract/Kg of CSL. The critical micelle concentration (CMC) of the biosurfactant extract was 399.4 mg L−1. This value is similar to the CMC of cetrimonium bromide (CTAB), a cationic surfactant used in the formulation of nanoparticles. The extraction of biosurfactant can be also carried out at room temperature although in this case, the extraction yield decreased about 15 %. The extraction of surface-active compounds from agroindustrial streams can suppose important advances for the bio-based surfactants industry. Biosurfactants obtained in this work are not only more eco-friendly than chemical detergents but also can be cost competitive with its chemical counterparts. Furthermore, after the extraction of surface-active compounds, CSL-less biosurfactant was found to be suitable as nutritional supplement for lactic acid bacteria, maintaining its nutritional properties in comparison with regular CSL.

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The authors thank the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (This work was funded by FEDER funds under the project CTM2012-31873). X. Vecino gratefully acknowledges the University of Vigo for receipt of a predoctoral contract.

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Correspondence to A. B. Moldes.

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Vecino, X., Barbosa-Pereira, L., Devesa-Rey, R. et al. Optimization of liquid–liquid extraction of biosurfactants from corn steep liquor. Bioprocess Biosyst Eng 38, 1629–1637 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00449-015-1404-9

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  • Corn steep liquor
  • Industrial stream
  • Liquid–liquid process
  • Biosurfactant
  • Nutritional medium