BSC to participate in two projects to improve the manufacture of more environment-friendly textiles, cosmetics and detergents

22 June 2021

The European Commission promotes research on enzymes, to respond to the steadily growing demand for greener consumer products.

Both projects have a total funding of almost 12 million euros and will be carried out with leading academic and industrial partners.

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) is part of two of the four projects that the European Commission has just approved and which aim to promote the development of enzymes for the manufacture of greener daily consumer products. FuturEnzyms and Oxipro projects are funded by the " Enzymes for more environment-friendly consumer products" initiative of the H2020 framework programme.

Detergents, textiles and cosmetics are basic, everyday products. They have complex chemical formulas, which can harm the environment, and they are responsible for high levels of CO2 emissions. In addition, during their lifecycle they are responsible for the consumption of large amounts of energy and water, and result in chemicals being discharged into the environment. One of the most promising ways to alleviate these problems is by replacing chemical agents used in industrial processes with enzymes in order to manufacture these products. The use of enzymes in liquid detergents, as well as in the processing of textiles and cosmetics, could reduce CO2 emissions by 42 million tonnes a year, according to recent estimates.

"Less than 10% of current consumer products contain enzymes, either because of their high cost or because of their low performance, and it is essential to design a new generation of enzymes with greater activity, stability and a lower cost", explains Víctor Guallar, ICREA researcher and electronic and atomic protein modeling group manager.

The FuturEnzyme project will develop new enzymes, which can be used to create greener consumer products (textiles, detergents and cosmetics). For this, a multi-disciplinary and multi-actor consortium of 16 leading academic and industrial partners will use innovative techniques that combine biodata analysis, bioprospecting, protein engineering, bioengineering and industrial tests, to select the best enzymes and make more sustainable detergents, textiles and cosmetics. This project is funded by almost six million euros from the Horizon 2020 framework programme.

Instead, the OXIPRO project will contribute to the transition towards greener detergents, textiles, cosmetics and nutraceuticals by co-creating and co-developing an efficient oxidoreductases foundry that integrates high-performance computing and cutting-edge biotechnology.

Oxidoreductases offer promising, yet underexploited solutions for enhancing sustainability in consumer products. Oxidoreductases are able to replace strong toxic and harmful oxidizers, create novel functionalities in substrates, transform waste to valuable products, and improve quality, appearance and durability of consumer products. This project is funded with around six million euros and has the participation of 14 industrial and academic partners.

In both projects, the BSC has a key role in the bioprospecting and engineering of enzymes, through the development and application of new computational tools, by combining molecular modeling techniques and artificial intelligence, which allow better selection and optimization of proteins.