FERMOPURE® is WACKER’s fresh brand name for all of the amino acids that the Group produces. At the new site in León, Spain, L-cystine – the starting material for L-cysteine – is manufactured by fermentation. Production in León has been certified to both FSSC 22000 and ISO 9001 and thus satisfies the highest of quality requirements. Due to the entirely plant-based and inorganic raw materials, WACKER’s cystine and cysteine are purely vegan. They are ideal for use in food products.

“With FERMOPURE®, WACKER offers a brand that stands for innovative, safe and versatile cystine and cysteine products,” says Dr. Stefan Neumann, head of the Bioprocessing business line at WACKER. 

Since September 2018, cystine production has been up and running at the modernized and technologically upgraded site in León, where more than 40 people work. WACKER is the first company in the world to manufacture cystine by fermentation thanks to a patented biotech process. This has the advantage that the raw materials are entirely plant-based and inorganic, so that any potential contamination due to animal or human pathogens can be eliminated completely. 

“Our production process yields products that are vegan, kosher and halal. This makes them ideal for numerous applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries,” explains Neumann. 

WACKER received the 2008 Environmental Award from the Federation of German Industries (BDI) for this process.

This fermentative production requires the aid of microorganisms and glucose from plant starch. These microorganisms are by nature able to synthesize cysteine. In the fermentation tank, they produce the amino acid in a continuous stream of glucose and inorganic trace elements. The microorganisms release cysteine directly into the surrounding culture medium in the fermenter, where spontaneous oxidation takes place: two molecules come together to form the dimer cystine. This product can subsequently be reduced again to the monomeric cysteine by electrolysis. The latter is one of the 20 natural amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

Thanks to their properties and high level of purity, WACKER’s FERMOPURE® products have a broad application range in the food and pharmaceutical industries. They find use in the manufacture of flavorings, as additives in baked good; and as an essential component of baby and toddler food. 

Cystine and cysteine are popular ingredients in nutritional supplements for strengthening the skin, hair and nails. The pharmaceutical sector uses cysteine in expectorants or to produce insulin, for example. 

“In León, we are well-equipped to satisfy our customers’ growing demand for cysteine in the long term and to advance other bioengineered products,” says Neumann.