A Sironix Renewables sign

Sironix startup scales up eco-friendly ingredients for cleaning, personal care

UMN-invented technology paves way for sustainably-sourced surfactants

In 2015, researchers in Paul Dauenhauer’s laboratory at the University of Minnesota were exploring new technologies for using biomass—materials derived from organic, renewable sources—to make the same chemical building blocks needed to manufacture plastics, rubber, detergents, and other materials that are normally derived from fossil fuels. In the process, they discovered something exciting. One of the plant-based compounds did more than replace its petroleum-based counterpart; it actually worked better.

“We discovered this other variation that gave much better performance,” said Dauenhauer, the Lanny Schmidt Honorary Professor in the College of Science and Engineering's Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. “A performance advantage is a really big deal. We were lucky enough to have this realization as a team, that there was a much bigger target here that we didn’t know about.”

The result was Eosix, a patented method for making nontoxic, sustainably-sourced ingredients called surfactants. Dauenhauer and then-laboratory member Christoph Krumm leveraged this newfound technology to form the startup Sironix Renewables in 2016, with the goal to make cleaning and personal care products more sustainable.

In August 2021, Sironix celebrated the opening of a new facility that will allow the company to scale up its manufacturing and produce hundreds of kilograms of surfactants a year—making the ingredient more appealing to companies interested in testing it in their products.

Read the full story on Sironix on the Office of the Vice President for Research Inquiry Blog.

If you’d like to support research in the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering, visit our CSE Giving website.