Wacker Chemie AG has won the Environmentally-Compatible Tech- nology award from the Federation of German Industries (BDI). The Munich-based chemical company won the prize for its innovative process to manufacture cysteine from microorganisms. Cysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that is primarily used in the food industry, but can also be used in cosmetics and drugs.
Wacker’s biotech fermentation is efficient and environmentally compatible, as 90% of the bacterial cysteine ends up in the final product. In addition, only one kilogram of hydrochloric acid is needed per kilogram of cysteine, whereas traditional processes using animal or human “raw materials” such as hair require 27kg of hydrochloric acid. This represents a savings of approximately 96%.