“With a mission to contribute to the green chemistry, Sigma Biotech, a Goa-based company founded in 2005, took a comprehensive approach to develop and manufacture bio-solvents for various cleaning applications. Bio-solvents, as a renewable resource and an alternate to petroleum based solvents, can change the course of Indian cleaning chemical business,” says Dr Rohit Kamath, Head-Research and Development, Sigma Biotech.
All industries, be it marine, steel, locomotive, automobile, small garages or heavy engineering, require hand wash products frequently. However, workers are not much exposed to developments in hand wash products and tend to opt for traditional washing options, whereby they first wash with solvents like kerosene or petrol or diesel, followed by rinsing with a soap cake. Industry workers washing hands with petroleum-based products is neither healthy for the skin nor the environment.
Similar to products like paints and coatings, some of the cleaning solutions, air fresheners and aerosols too can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are highly polluting.
Production of most solvents is also based on crude oil feedstock, which again is unsustainable. Although the use of chlorinated solvents is on the decline, they are being used for some applications and are still releasing ozone-depleting compounds into the atmosphere.
Bio-solvents or solvent replacements from biological sources have the potential to dramatically reduce the amount of environment-polluting VOCs. They are sustainable. Bio solvents are formulations of green chemistry that use RRM (Renewable Raw Material) as feedstock consisting essentially of farm and plant based extracts.
Use of bio solvents can save fossil resources and reduce negative effects on the environment. The comparatively challenging conditions of exploiting fossil resources make them highly priced too.
In many cases, bio based products show an advanced greenhouse gas balance over the whole lifecycle and the production and disposal processes are normally less toxic and less energy demanding compared to products based on fossil resources (Petroleum Distillates) and toxic chemicals.
The primary objective of sustainable development is the reduction of environmental pollution and the conservation of finite fossil fuels.These goals can be achieved by using renewable raw materials.
“There has always been a misconception that green products or bio-solvents are expensive. On the contrary, here they are much cheaper compared to conventional cleaning chemicals.”
Opportunities & Offerings
Sigma Biotech provides non-toxic and eco-friendly hand hygiene solutions. “We have come up with bio-solvent based solutions which is 100% green and safe to use. This is a huge untapped market in India and holds a lot of potential. But, at the same time the awareness about such solutions is very low.
“We manufacture products from renewable feed stocks which are locally grown. Hence it helps maintain price stability to a large extent.”
Being biodegradable, bio-solvent products also break down safely and relatively quickly in the environment. These solids are compostable and the liquids are easily biodegrade in water.
Even though bio-solvents release CO2, they are carbon neutral. The carbon in the bio-solvents comes from photosynthesis, where CO2 is captured from the atmosphere by a plant and turned into glucose. The glucose can then be turned into more complicated molecules such as sugars, starches, oils and proteins. The sugar and starch can easily be converted into bio-solvents. Carbon is then removed from the atmosphere, stored in plants for a few months, and then released when the bio-solvents are used or burned. For every gram of CO2 released by using or burning a bio-solvent, equal gram was removed from the atmosphere through photosynthesis a few months ago. This perfect balance makes bio-solvents, carbon neutral.
“To cater to the LMSMEs, we have come up with two products – Happy Hands, a premium gel form solution – for large scale industries. For Medium/Small scale industries, which generally prefer low cost solutions such as soap, we have introduced Maxima, a bio-solvent based cake at an affordable price.”
Happy Hands EL-15
An industrial bio hand wash with conditioner, Happy Hands-EL15, is suitable for removing grease, industrial grit and soil from hands yet safe to use on skin. Having complex proprietary bio-solvent formulation, it is manufactured using White Biotechnology, the application of Nature’s Toolset. The raw materials used are agricultural and botanical extracts. It is free from fossil resources like petroleum distillates and hazardous chemicals and solvents. Happy Hands gel is in the market for the last six years.
• Low Vapour Pressure
• High Boiling Point
• Great penetration characteristics
• Rinses easily with water
• Not Ozone Depleting Chemical or Hazardous Air Pollutant
• Non Carcinogenic / Non Corrosive
• 70% water savings per hand wash compared to conventional solvent cleaning
• No soap is necessary
• Takes only 1.5gm to 2gm per hand cleaning
• Costs less than kerosene or other solvents per hand wash
• Non flammable
In order to encourage workers and to break the psychological barriers of traditional methods of using bar soaps, Sigma Biotech introduced heavy duty bio-solvent powered hand cleaner bar Maxima.
It is suitable for removing dirt, grime, grease, oil, carbon black, offset printing ink, screen printing ink, colour and dye, and many more. This does away with the practice of using kerosene, petrol, thinner or any other cleaning solvents.