The GelEnz team work to develop new materials to enable a step change from oil-based to bio-based ingredients for formulated products.

Nature builds complex materials from relatively simple building blocks like polysaccharides, which are polymers of sugars. Emulating this, we build particles based on cellulose and starch from plants that can thicken and gel water-based formulations.  These can be used in foods, cosmetics, and personal care products as well as medicines and agrochemical formulations.

Replacing some of the oil-based ingredients in such products can offer environmental benefits and reduce our over reliance on petro-chemicals. The advanced functionality that we can build in to GelEnz materials makes them very flexible so that they can be tailored for specific applications. For example, stabilization of emulsions and thickening of the whole product makes luxurious creams and lotions, while combining the “gels” with other biopolymers can be used to make core/shell fibres that are compatible with the human body – while still in development these latter materials offer potential for “disappearing” (bioresorbable) fibres as well as for drug delivery.

To use materials in new products, it is important to understand the science that underpins the behaviour. Teams from the Universities of Bath, Bristol and East Anglia work with the John Innes Centre to understand the physical science and to develop new enzymatic-based processes to make the materials.