Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy
BOOST FUND 2.0 project SurfIn

Surface Active Biomolecules for the Chemical Industry

Figure: Boost  Fund 2.0 Project SurfIn


Within the project “SurfIn”, we will investigate the production of biosurfactants, which are not yet used by the chemical industry. With years of proven productive cooperation, we aligned a consortium with the necessary know-how, building on the expertise developed in previous BioSC projects to research a biosurfactant production process towards industrial adaptation. SurfIn integrates strain engineering of biosurfactant producing microbes with bioprocess engineering for enhanced cultivation conditions and upscaling of the fermentation, chemical engineering for the development of sustainable purification strategies, and finally, social and management sciences for the implementation of the developed technology in relevant industries and markets. For possible exploitation of the SurfIn results, industrial experts from world leading companies form part of the consortium.
The two target compounds of SurfIn will be the biosurfactants liamocin and serrawettin W1. Both have not been intensively researched and offer a high potential for dissemination and commercial exploitation. Apart from the use in classical surfactant applications (e.g., detergents) both substances feature further areas for usage. Serrawettin W1 for example has been shown to be applicable in crop protection and both molecules are suited as building blocks for bio-based polymers. As heavy oils, liamocins show similar characteristics during production and purification as sophorolipids, a first class of biosurfactants that are successfully exploited in industry. Liamocins feature a high potential to be produced at industrial scale with less development effort than for the extensively foaming biosurfactants such as rhamnolipids. The outcome of SurfIn will be a general workflow for integrated
strain and process engineering for biosurfactant production, explicitly a fermentation at 50 L, with titers above 20 g/L, including simple but efficient purification and a defined roadmap for industrial implementation of the technology.

BOOST FUND 2.0 Coordinator

Dr. Till Tiso
iAMB - Institute for Applied Microbiology
RWTH Aachen
email: Till.Tiso[at]



Prof. Dr. Jaeger & Stephan Thies & Sonja Kubicki, IMET - Molecular Enzyme Technology, HHU Düsseldorf
Prof. Dr. Blank & Dr. Till Tiso, iAMB - Institute for Applied Microbiology, RWTH Aachen
Prof. Dr. Büchs & Robert Dinger, AVT.BioVT - Biochemical Engineering, RWTH Aachen
Prof. Dr. Jupke & Andreas Biselli, AVT.FVT - Fluid Process Engineering, RWTH Aachen
Prof. Dr. Bröring & Dr. Rennings, ILR - Technology and Innovation Management in Agribusiness, University of Bonn

Funding period

01.06.2022 - 31.05.2025



SurfIn is part of the NRW-Strategieprojekt BioSC and thus funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.


Gauthier, C, Lavoie, S, Kubicki, S, Piochon, M, Cloutier, M, Dagenais-Roy, M, Groleau, M-C, Pichette, A, Thies, S and Déziel, E (2024). Structural characterization of a nonionic rhamnolipid from Burkholderia lata. Carbohydrate Research 535: 108991.  

Tiso, T, Demling, P, Karmainski, T, Oraby, A, Eiken, J, Liu, L, Bongartz, P, Wessling, M, Desmond, P, Schmitz, S, Weiser, S, Emde, F, Czech, H, Merz, J, Zibek, S, Blank, LM and Regestein, L (2024). Foam control in biotechnological processes—challenges and opportunities. Discover Chemical Engineering 4(1): 2.

Tiso, T, Welsing, G, Lipphardt, A, Sauer, DF, Chi, Z, Blank, LM and Hayen, H (2024)Proposal for a systematic naming convention for liamocins. Journal of Surfactants and Detergents n/a(n/a).

Filbig, M, Kubicki, S, Bator, I, Hausmann, R, Blank, LM, Henkel, M, Thies, S and Tiso, T (2023). Chapter 8 - Metabolic and process engineering on the edge—Rhamnolipids are a true challenge: A review. Biosurfactants. Soberón-Chávez, G., Academic Press: 157-181.

Kossmann, DF, Huang, M, Weihmann, R, Xiao, X, Gätgens, F, Weber, TM, Brass, HUC, Bitzenhofer, NL, Ibrahim, S, Bangert, K, Rehling, L, Mueller, C, Tiso, T, Blank, LM, Drepper, T, Jaeger, K-E, Grundler, FMW, Pietruszka, J, Schleker, ASS and Loeschcke, A (2023). Production of tailored hydroxylated prodiginine showing combinatorial activity with rhamnolipids against plant-parasitic nematodes. Frontiers in Microbiology 14.  

Reifsteck, RA, Zhai, S, Gausmann, M, Ballerstedt, H, Tiso, T, Blank, LM and Jupke, A (2023). Techno-Economic Comparison of Bio-Cycling Processes for Mixed Plastic Waste Valorization. Chemie Ingenieur Technik 95(8): 1247-1258.