February 20, 2013

Developing guar gum alternatives

The blog is still working on a post about Ovation Biotech as well as updates on biobased adipic acid developments. Meanwhile, let's visit the guar gum market as I've been hearing about how tight this market has become since last year because of its increased use in hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), the process where hard-to-get natural gas is extracted from shale.

Guar beans
Guar gum, an extract from guar beans principally grown in India and Pakistan, acts as a food and water store and therefore is considered one of those hydrocolloids (a substance that forms a gel in the presence of water). I used to cover some of this market back when I wrote articles for Chemical Market Reporter (the predecessor of ICIS Chemical Business) about hydrocolloids such as gelatin, xanthan, carrageenan, pectin, alginates, functional starches and of course guar gum.

According to market research firm Pike Research, India produces over 1m tonnes of guar beans and exports nearly half a million tonnes annually. The drought-resistant guar bean can be eaten as a green bean, fed to cattle or used in green manure while the guar seeds are dehusked, milled and screened to obtain the guar gum. The product is mostly used in food as texturizer and thickener, as pharmaceutical additives and in oil and gas extraction.

More on this post....
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