Pioneered by Roquette

During its 70 years of research and on-going innovation in all the starch sectors, Roquette has developed many products and processes.



1960: success of industrial microbiology

Fortified by its experience in the field of the manufacture and use of amylases, Roquette took up the challenge of the bioconversion of starch derivatives.

As early as the 1960’s, microbiological oxidation of glucose in gluconic acid by Gluconobacter suboxydans or sorbitol in sorbose by the same bacteria, were industrial realities.

The company’s microbiologists then went on to isolate and reproduce a strain of Aspergillus niger, which was more effective and easier to use and they thereby contributed along with the manufacturing technicians to the optimising of the production and the extraction of gluconic acid, its lactone and its salts (sodium gluconate in particular).




1962: development of a dual enzyme hydrolysis range

It was as early as 1962 in Lestrem that Roquette set up the first installation in the world for the dual enzyme hydrolysis of starch. This technological breakthrough enabled the production of hydrolysates with a very high dextrose content.

The second stage saw an improvement in the quality through the installation of continuous enzyme liquefaction followed by saccharification.

The last stage then consisted in reducing their cost and above all enabling them to be used in new fields where they could not be competitive until then: the manufacture of amino acids, vitamins or antibiotics for example.

Enzyme hydrolysis enables the range of hydrolysates to be extended every day. The Roquette research centre takes charge of developing them in applications of a more and more specific nature.




1975: launch of continuous chromatography

Being conversant with industrial chromatography, at the end of the 1960’s Roquette performed glucose and fructose separations on 30 m3 units of ion exchange resins saturated in calcium. It was therefore perfectly natural for a continuous chromatography project to be launched in 1975 on the same glucose and fructose separation.

This internal project preceded the multiple developments throughout the entire world which were going to lead to the now well-known SMB (Simulating Moving Bed) technique that is taught in process chemistry lectures.

Roquette endowed itself with this patented technology in-house when starting up in 1978 an initial unit of 10 chromatography plates for a total of 120 m3 of resins. The continuous separation of the glucose and fructose produced from the first Isoglucoses (HFCS) resulting from the new technology of using glucose isomerase was mastered at this time.

Since this pioneering period in the field, many SMB units have been built in the Roquette production areas and enable the continuous separation of many sugars, polyols and starch derivatives. 




Sugar-free coating: Maltitol takes the lead

In 1984, Roquette Research & Development developed and patented an extremely innovative process for the production of high-purity MALTISORB® crystalline maltitol.

At that time, a complete screening of the functional properties of MALTISORB® by Roquette demonstrated the importance of its potential in the production of sugar-free coating. Highly innovative processes were developed and patented during the ensuing years.

To continue the performance optimization of MALTISORB® in coating, Roquette invested in the DRIACOATER 1200 at the end of 1999. DRIACOATER 1200 is a fully automatic coating pan, making scaling up by customers easy. This investment helped perfect the process in terms of the final pellets quality and in saving time; it definitely confirmed the superiority of MALTISORB® for sugar-free coating.

Thanks to these innovations, investments and long-term working relationships with chewing gum producers, MALTISORB® is taking the lead in sugar-free coating production worldwide.




1986: efficient production of cyclodextrin

A new strain of bacillus circulans was discovered by the Roquette Microbiology Department. Now bacillus circulans is a source of enzyme required for the production of cyclodextrin, the key to the power and flexibility of molecular encapsulation.

Following comprehensive research to improve it and optimise fermentation and enzyme reaction, the company built a pilot plant, completed in 1986, capable of producing several tonnes a year of pure beta-cyclodextrin (KLEPTOSE®).

Today Roquette is one of the world’s leading producers with the capacity of producing several hundred tonnes per annum. Intensive research work is continuing with the aim of improving production efficiency and bringing cyclodextrin derivatives to the market.



gamme apyrog_ne

Development of a pyrogen-free range

Every day over a million and a half patients on drips throughout the globe receive pyrogen-free Roquette products.

The high-tech work accomplished in the hydrolysis techniques and the purification processes enables a quality of glucose (dextrose) to be produced that is free of any pyrogenic substances and complies with the most stringent pharmacopoeias.  




Hydroxypropyl beta-cyclodextrin research

The main supplier of excipients, injectable raw materials and beta-cyclodextrin for the pharmaceutical industry, Roquette rapidly identified the need to have new cyclodextrins available. More soluble and injectable, they would increase the bioavailability of the more and more sophisticated active ingredients produced by pharmaceutical research that have however the drawback of being fragile with a low level of solubility.

In order to satisfy this expectation, Roquette has developed and marketed hydroxypropyl beta-cyclodextrin KLEPTOSE® HP and HPB through the perfecting of the synthesis process (US Patent 5,756,454). The construction of a production area dedicated to this satisfies the most stringent industrial and pharmaceutical standards: ISO, GMP (FDA). 




New range of soluble food fibres: NUTRIOSE®

The reaction of starch dextrinification, with a view to obtaining ready-to-use starch glues, is one of the oldest reactions in the world of starch manufacture. Formerly produced using a discontinuous process with hydrochloric acid-resistant controllers, this reaction is today done on a continuous basis in just a few minutes using fully automated processes.

Roquette has absolute mastery over these super-dextrinification processes in continuous reactors and thus developed a range of soluble food fibres: NUTRIOSE®. Not only has dextrinification become a customized operation, but the combination of dextrinification and continuous chromatography has enabled a range of dextrins to be produced that are adjusted in molecular weight and viscosity according to the final application sought. 




New film-forming polymer: LYCOAT®

Starch is a natural polymer that opens up the way to a multitude of applications when it is processed to enhance its properties.

Roquette has developed, for pea starch, new chemical and physical treatments to obtain an excellent film-forming polymer: LYCOAT® (patent EP 1 684 731).

This new film-forming polymer LYCOAT® enables the confectionery industry to produce innovative and attractive coatings with a starch base or the pharmaceutical industry to simplify and speed up the coating of tablets. It also enables the formulation of a new type of medicine: films that are dissolved on the tongue for immediate action of the active ingredient.




Production of isosorbide, a sustainable chemistry objective

Roquette, the world’s leading producer of sorbitol since 1954, very quickly initiated the dual dehydration of this molecule to convert it into isosorbide. In 1986, an initial article appeared in Stärke No38 written by Messrs. FLECHE and HUCHETTE entitled ‘’Isosorbide: Preparation, Properties and Chemistry’’. This article is still a benchmark and pioneer in the field.

In 1992, together with the Macromolecular Materials Laboratory of Professor Pascault of the INSA in Lyons, Roquette funded a PhD thesis on the properties of isosorbide diol for the production of functional polymers. The thesis, accepted on 23 October 1995, enabled new fields to be explored.

This isosorbide diol is now one of the linchpins of the BioHub® programme launched in 2006 and backed by the Industrial Innovation Agency. In this sustainable chemistry programme, isosorbide is being investigated as a renewable diol for various polymers and biopolymers, as a raw material for green and fluxing solvent (Isosorbide Di-methyl) and as a green plasticizer (Isosorbide Di-Esters).

In 2007, after several years of production in pilot plants of increasing sizes, Roquette launched its first industrial production of isosorbide at Lestrem using a patented purification technology .



pois prot_agineux

Mastery of a new raw material: protein pea

Roquette’s trade consists traditionally in working agricultural materials that are rich in starch, such as grains of wheat or maize or the tubers of potatoes to separate out the main constituents: starch, proteins, solubles, germs, fibres. The sophisticated knowledge produced by this grain “cracker” trade naturally led the company to the yellow protein pea as a new source of raw material.

The initial laboratory work in 1994, in a pilot unit to begin with, then in between the potato starch campaigns at the potato starch plant at Vic-sur-Aisne, enabled the setting in place of a new industrial channel for obtaining starch and proteins. The technology aimed to convert the potato starch and potato protein recovery circuits into a unit for separating out the constituents of the pea. This technology, patented by Roquette, led in March 2007 to the complete conversion of the Vic-sur-Aisne site into a pea starch and protein plant, the only one in the world to operate round-the-clock all year round in this field.