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Unilever and Arzeda use AI to develop performance-boosting enzymes

The new enzymes, used to fight stains in cleaning and laundry products, were developed five times faster than previously possible and could halve the number of ingredients needed to deliver effective cleaning performance.

Unilever and Arzeda have developed new enzymes with increased stability, performance and sustainability benefits in just 18 months – that’s five times faster than previously possible.

The milestone in our multi-year partnership was achieved using the company’s Intelligent Protein Design Technology. This combines physics-based design and artificial intelligence (AI) to create new proteins and enzymes that fight stains better, use less water and energy, and replace petrochemical-derived ingredients.

In fact, these new enzymes, which have an impressive ability to break down different types of stains, could halve the number of ingredients we need to formulate our cleaning and laundry products.

Enzymes are naturally derived and low in carbon. Until now, science has only ever scratched the surface of what they can do. Unlocking their power could provide exciting possibilities for products and the planet.

The Arzeda partnership supports our Clean Future strategy, which is how we’re transforming some of the most popular cleaning and laundry brands in the world to become lower carbon and lower waste, with the same or even better performance.

“As part of Unilever’s Clean Future strategy, we’re investing in cutting-edge technologies to develop the next generation of sustainable, high-performance cleaning products,” says Peter ter Kulve, Unilever Home Care President. “The progress made in just 18 months with Arzeda’s technology shows how the convergence of AI and biology is a game-changer for an industry like home care.”

Since beginning work with Unilever in July 2021, Arzeda has been responsible for the design, strain engineering and initial scale-up of the new enzymes. Production in real-world testing quantities has been completed, demonstrating that the new enzymes can be used within our portfolio.

The progress with Arzeda’s technology shows how the convergence of AI and biology is a game-changer. “As we continue to scale up production, we’re extremely excited and optimistic about the incredible potential this partnership has for consumers and our planet,” adds Arzeda CEO and founder Alexandre Zanghellini.

The partnership will also advance our commitment to reach net zero emissions from all our products by 2039.

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