Research project sees market for hempseed oil in skin care

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The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) said it will partner with an Illinois company on a 24-month project aimed at developing “cosmeceutical” ingredients for skin-care products from hempseed oil.

ARS scientists and the Peoria-based Midwest Bioprocessing Center (MBC) are applying “bio-catalysis,” a patented process that a team of chemists developed previously at the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria. The team used the process to create a class of compounds called feruloyl soy glycerides (FSGs) from soybean oil that were eventually commercialized

The science

The new project is to explore creating similar ferulic-acid-based ingredients from bio-catalyzed hempseed oil to create ingredients for personal-care products which have ultraviolet (UV) absorbance and antioxidant properties. The process uses enzymes and heat rather than harsh chemicals and solvents to catalyze reactions that bind natural antioxidants like ferulic acid to lipids in the oils.

MBC specializes in organic chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing. NCAUR’s Renewable Technologies Research Unit in Peoria is one of seven institutes that continously research value-added uses for agricultural commodities as well as the byproducts from processed goods. 

Expanding markets

The NCAUR has also played a lead role in devising sustainable approaches to processing farm commodities with an eye towards expanding economic opportunities for growers of both established crops like corn, wheat and soybean, as well as emerging ones, such as cuphea and industrial hemp.

In addition to opening the door to the cosmetics and personal care markets, NCAUR scientists are researching ways to better process hemp into fuels, lubricants and adhesives, as well as functional food ingredients and fiber products.

The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. ARS and MBC are working under a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) in which the government provides no funding but authorizes its scientists to work with private entities.

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