MICOLOR (Microbial Colorants)

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MICOLOR (Microbial Colorants): An alternative to waste generating & water polluting synthetic colors

Mumbai, India
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Our present endeavour explores microbes as a waste & inexhaustible source which can be used for extracting different natural colors, thereby
giving an opportunity to color the whole world in a new different way and reducing the adverse effects caused by use of synthetic colors!

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if Microbes could save us from the harsh effects and pollution causing synthetic colors??
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The prolonged use of synthetic colors (derived from petroleum) has led to many ecological challenges. Today almost 15-20% of freshwater pollution is caused by textile dyeing and treatment. Moreover the hazardous waste generated during synthesis, along with the concerns related to human safety and environment has thus fostered fresh enthusiasm in search for alternatives. We are trying to address the above stated problem.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Microbes provide this inexhaustible feedstock, as they represent one of the cheapest, most abundant & unexplored biological feedstock available in large quantities. Microbes which are present in many different colours can be exploited to extract colors. These natural colors can find applications in food, pharmaceuticals, textiles and cosmetics. The present research therefore explores microbes as a waste & inexhaustible source which can be used for extracting different natural colors, thereby giving an opportunity to color the whole world in a new different way!


1. ABLE INDIA BEST 2015 - This project was ranked 3rd in the list . 2. This project has also won Outstanding Young chemical Engineers award (OYCE) Title i.e first prize in 2014 and second prize in 2015 in India.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

1.Imagine the Rashes caused on infant skins or even in adults due to use of synthetic colors used in textiles, also what about the colors used in lipsticks (cosmetics), which is ingested directly into stomach, the synthetic colors used in foods, pharmaceuticals- are they safe??! 2.The air pollution caused to make the synthetic colors- Are we sure about the air we breathe!, The water pollution caused due to the same in textile industry - endangering the aquatic life ? 3.What about the renewable sources getting depleted in making those synthetic colors?? Can we generate them back!!! All this can be overcome, By trying to replace or minimise the use of this synthetic colors by the use of safe and natural microbial colors!

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The objectives of the project are : 1) To isolate and identify microbes (especially bacteria) that produce colours / pigments naturally. 2) Characterisation of the extracted pigment to understand its chemistry and study its application based on that chemistry in various sectors like textiles, cosmetics, foods, etc. 3) To optimise the media and extraction process to get the maximum yield of the pigment / colour while making the whole process as economically viable as possible. 4) Along with the pigment / colour, the focus was also on production of other value added products (if any) by using the same isolate. The project has progressed extremely well. We have been able to isolate a yellow and orange color producing microbe.We have also tested its application in textile and cosmetic area. Few above stated objectives have been completed and rest are underway.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

In short term during the years of project it is expected to add to the knowledge of society and science at large in India. Such kind of work has not been much explored in India as well as in other countries, so this not only gives an opportunity to the working scientists to learn something new but also provides a model for future innovations involving microbes. In long term the project is likely to serve industries not only in food and cosmetics, but various end user industries like candle making and textiles. The project would try and provide an alternative for synthetic colors

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We would be approaching government bodies for funding by submitting research proposals. We would also look for private bodies for share.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The total market of natural colors stands at US$ 0.66 Billion in 2010. The market of these natural pigments/colors is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate(CAGR) of 7% in the coming years. Key Companies in the market include Danisco, BASF, and DSM etc.The Indian market is dominated by a few players like parry neutraceutical, Sudarshan chemicals Ltd etc.which still extract these pigments/colors frthese pigments/colors from flowers and plants. This idea therefore provides a unique opportunity to explore a completely new process to enter the market.


We two doctoral students, Miss Vaishali M. Kulkarni and Mr. Arjun Singh Bajwa have been working on this project at Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai. Both are pursuing their doctoral studies in Bioprocess technology from ICT . If selected in the above programme, We both would be accompanying for the presentation as We both have equally contributed to the project.