Innovations

Three varieties of algal-blended resins containing up to 50% algae or duckweed biomass.

Three varieties of algal-blended resins containing up to 50% algae or duckweed biomass.

Algix Developing Algal-based Plastics

July 9, 2012
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Algix, LLC is a bioplastics company developing novel thermoplastic formulations and resins using feedstocks from renewable sources. The Algix Bio-resins derive up to 70% of their feedstock from aquatic biomass obtained from nitrogen and phosphorus-rich wastewater, blended with various concentrations of PE, PP, EVA, PLA, TPS, PHA etc.* for use in a wide range of end-use applications.

A variety of raw aquatic feedstocks, such as spirulina, periphyton, duckweed and diatoms.

A variety of raw aquatic feedstocks, such as spirulina, periphyton, duckweed and diatoms.

Algix has partnered with the University of Georgia and Kimberly-Clark to commercialize the cultivation of aquatic biomass, such as algae, as a feedstock for bioplastic conversion. The company is targeting agricultural and industrial operations, such as livestock farms and wastewater treatment facilities, as a source of low-cost nutrients for high productivity aquatic biomass cultivation. Additionally, Algix is developing customized bioplastic formulations for industrial, commercial and retail applications.

Injection molded 3-D prototype containers comprised of at least 50% algae biomass

Injection molded 3-D prototype containers comprised of at least 50% algae biomass

Algix’s approach allows industries (textile, agriculture, aquaculture, municipal, etc.) the opportunity to capture their lowest-value waste product. Through bioremediation using algae and aquatic macrophytes, photosynthesis captures solar energy and converts the wastewater nutrients into protein-rich biomass that can be used as raw material for composite formulations to make bioplastics. With proper investment facilitating economies of scale, this material may become a viable option for those looking for a cost-competitive, bio-based, thermoplastic resin and masterbatch.

Flexing of a highly elastic dogbone comprised of microalgae and EVA.

Flexing of a highly elastic dogbone comprised of microalgae and EVA.

Ryan Hunt, Director of R&D at Algix, co-authored “Microalgae Cultivation in a Wastewater Dominated by Carpet Mill Effluents for Biofuel Applications” in 2010, and “Sustainable Bioderived Polymeric Materials and Thermoplastic Blends made from Floating Aquatic Macrophytes such as Duckweed” in 2012, testimony to his company’s innovative edge in the bioengineering of aquatic biomass.

The company is located in Georgia, where over 150 carpet plants that produce millions of gallons of nutrient-rich waste water are co-located. Research conducted at the University of Georgia, where Mr. Hunt is an alumni, has demonstrated high growth rates from various strains of algae and isolated top performing microalgae strains for further development.

Algix is currently developing partnerships and collaborations for developing resins for use in extrusion compounding, injection molding, cast films, spun fibers and thermoforming applications.

PE: Polyethylene
PP : polypropylene
EVA: Ethyl-vinyl Acetate
PLA: Poly Lactic Acid (biobased from corn or sugar cane usually)
TPS: Thermoplastic starch (corn, potato, starch based)
PHA: Polyhydroxyalkanoate (biobased made through fermentation with microbes, still quite expensive, google Metabolix and ADM’s struggle with this polymer)

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