Biosurfactants are amphiphilic molecules produced by a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria, yeast and filamentous fungi. Unlike chemically synthesized surfactants, biosurfactants present advantages, such as biodegradability, low toxicity, high selectivity and activity under extreme temperature, pH and salinity conditions, as well as a low critical micelle concentration. Moreover, they can be produced from agro-industrial waste and renewable sources. Their structural diversity and functional properties mean that they have potential applications in various industrial processes as wetting agents, dispersants, emulsifiers, foaming agents, food additives and detergents, as well as in the field of environmental biotechnology. However, opportunities for their commercialization have been limited due to the low yields obtained in the fermentation processes involved in their production as well as the use of refined raw materials, which means higher cost in production. In an attempt to solve these limitations on the commercialization of biosurfactants, various research groups have focused on testing the use of inexpensive alternative sources, such as agro-industrial waste, as substrates for the production of different biosurfactants. In addition to enabling the economical production of biosurfactants, the use of such waste aims to reduce the accumulation of compounds that cause environmental damage. This review shows advances in biosurfactant production carried out using different waste materials or by-products from agro-industrial activities.
- Agro-industrial by-products
- Critical micelle concentration
- Functional properties
- Surface tension