The interregional ValBran project focussed on enhancing the value of wheat bran, an agricultural co-product derived from flour mills and biorefineries that is mainly used for animal feed. The project finished in December 2020. Scroll down to learn more, or read the end report.


Starting from the carbohydrates of wheat bran, ValBran aimed to develop biotechnological and green chemistry pathways for the sustainable production of high added-value surfactant molecules, as a substitute for oil-based molecules. The plant-based molecules were required to respect four conditions: have a lower cost than the oil-based equivalent, have at least equivalent properties to those of the oil-based equivalent, do not compete with food, and have minimal environmental impact. Targeted applications were detergency, cosmetics, phytosanitary agents and food additives.

A second ambition consisted of strengthening the cross-border cooperation between the bio-economy sectors of northern France, Wallonia and Flanders. This aim was reflected in the broad project consortium, which included partners from all three regions.


Specifically, the project focussed on two categories of surfactants: alkylpolyglycosides (APG) and sugar esters. Its approach consisted of developing several laboratory-scale processes and the selecting the most promising process for pilot-scale transfer. This was followed by an economic and environmental analysis of the developed process(es).


The project lasted 4 years and finished in December 2020. It has shown that wheat bran has great potential for the sustainable production of surfactants. It proved possible to produce biological surfactants with interesting properties via enzymatic technologies. Yet, the production cost of the biological surfactants remains an issue, as it is higher than the cost for producing oil-based surfactants. Tests at pilot scale will have to be carried out to demonstrate the economic viability of the processes.

Learn more about the project results by reading the the end report.

Project Details

Project type: INTERREG
Duration: 31/12/2016 – 31/12/2020
Total budget: €1.745.826
Subsidy: €872.913

Project Partners