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Algae used to make new biopolymer

April 13th, 2020 / By: / EcoNote

In 2019 the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture registered algae as an agricultural commodity, making it a tradeable material and industry feedstock. That action may mean that more manufacturers will use the commodity to create textile technologies.

Algix LLC is a clean technology company that produces sustainable products using aquaculture and water remediation.According to a recent report in Sportstextiles.com, the company harvests algae blooms that pollute waterways and turns the organisms into foams for footwear, under the brand name “Bloom.” 

“We started 14 years ago with the idea of cleaning textile wastewater, which is full of phosphorus and nitrogen, with algae that supply a protein-rich biomass as a byproduct,” said Ryan Hunt, company co-founder and CTO. 

The company removes the proteinaceous material created by the algae and turns it into industrial polymers. Plastic made of 100 percent algae tends to be too brittle, so Algix mixes its biopolymer with other resins. Now, according to the article, 70 factories are producing the company’s blend of biopolymer and elastomeric EVA for 63 brands. 

Algix is applying for Global Recycled Standard certification of Bloom, and third-party life cycle assessment results are being shared with brands and the Higg Index, according to the article. 

Hunt said the company’s next steps include developing higher-value materials, such as thermoplastic elastomers, which offer better rebound and more cushion, for possible use in athletic outsoles and yoga mats, the article reported.

Algix also hopes to inspire industries, municipalities and organizations managing wastewater facilities to convert waste into a commodity. “We see algae as an untapped resource that is growing in the wrong location,” Hunt said.