Click here for more information about Algenuity
Click here for more information about Liqofluxphenometrics515R1
Visit cricatalyst.com!Evodos Separation Technology

Innovations

A better sustainable sanitary pad

May 19, 2017
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

University of Utah materials science and engineering student Amber Barron (left) and materials science and engineering assistant professor Jeff Bates are part of a team that has developed a new, 100-percent biodegradable feminine maxi pad that is made of all natural materials and a processed form of algae as its super-absorbent ingredient, making it much thinner and more comfortable than other similar products.Photo: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering

Nearly 20 billion sanitary pads, tampons and applicators are dumped into North American landfills every year, and it takes centuries for them to biodegrade inside plastic bags, according to a 2016 Harvard Business School report. Additionally, it requires high amounts of fossil fuel energy to produce the plastic for these products, resulting in a large carbon footprint.

Attempting to move this situation in a more sustainable direction, a team of students led by University of Utah materials science and engineering assistant professor Jeff Bates has developed a new, 100-percent biodegradable feminine maxi pad that is made of all natural materials and is much thinner and more comfortable than other similar products.

The SHERO Pad uses a processed form of algae as its super-absorbent ingredient, which is then covered with cotton and the same material that makes up tea bags. The result is a maxi pad that is effective, comfortable to wear and can break down in 45 days to six months.

Click to enlarge.

“This is novel in comparison to other biodegradable options out there for pads,” said Amber Barron, a University of Utah junior in materials science and engineering who is on the team of four students. “Most are really bulky because they don’t have a superabsorbent layer.”

The need for something like the SHERO Pad originally came from SHEVA, a nonprofit advocacy group for women and girls in Guatemala, which turned to Mr. Bates because it was looking for a sustainable solution for feminine hygiene waste. One of his areas of research is in hydrogels, which are water-absorbing polymers.

“In Guatemala, there’s no public sanitation system. All the rivers are black because they are so polluted,” Mr. Bates says. “So there really is a genuine need for people in Guatemala to have biodegradable options.”

Part of his solution came one night while feeding his 5-year-old daughter. “One day we were eating dinner with white rice, and my daughter spilled it all over the floor,” he says about that night two years ago. “The next morning, when I was cleaning it up, it was all dry and crusted. I drove to work and thought, ‘What was it about rice that does that?’”

That question of how rice hydrates and dehydrates began a two-year process of searching for the right natural materials for the feminine pad, which included testing with different leaves, such as banana leaves, and forms of cotton.

Mr. Bates, Ms. Barron and the rest of the team — which includes sophomore students, Sarai Patterson, Ashlea Patterson and Ali Dibble — ultimately developed the SHERO Pad, which is made up of four layers: An outer layer of raw cotton similar to a tea bag to repel liquid, a transfer layer of organic cotton to absorb the liquid and pull it from the outer layer, the super-absorbent layer made of agarose gel (a polymer from brown algae), and a final layer made of a corn-based material that keeps the moisture inside and prevents leakage.

While there are other similar sustainable feminine pads on the market today, they either use a hydrogel that is not 100 percent biodegradable or they use thicker layers of natural cotton that are uncomfortable to wear, Ms. Barron says. Another advantage to the SHERO Pad is that it can easily be manufactured in smaller villages using locally sourced materials and without sophisticated tools, just common presses and grinding stones, adds Mr. Bates.

While the team originally developed the SHERO Pad for users in developing countries such as Guatemala, Mr. Bates and the students also will start selling the product in the U.S. for environmentally conscious women. A working prototype has been produced, and they have launched a startup company based in Bountiful, Utah. They hope to have products in Guatemala and on U.S. store shelves within a year.

More Like This…

Copyright ©2010-2018 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

twittertopbarlinks_eventstopbarlinks_requesttopbarlinks_archives

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
WesTech Engineering, Inc. and Utah State University’s Sustainable Waste-to-Bioproducts Engineering Center (SWBEC) are jointly engaged in developing processes for more eff...
David Erickson writes in the (Montana) Missoulian that Clearas Water Recovery, a Missoula tech company formed eight years ago, has developed a patented process to use alg...
Washington State University researchers have developed a biofilm reactor to grow algae more efficiently, and make the algae more viable for several industries, including ...
Colorado State University scientists and Arizona State University’s Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation are partners in a three-year grant of up to $3.5 mi...
Malaysia-based Algaetech International, a pioneer algae technology company specializing in R&D, as well as production and commercialization of algae-derived high valu...
Trade Arabia reports that the Oman Centre for Marine Biotechnology (OCMB) recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Swedish Algae Factory to support the domestic...
The recently signed US two-year budget deal – featuring bipartisan support for a $35 per ton tax incentive for carbon captured and recycled from power plants or industria...
Cody Nelson writes for MPRNews.org that a team of University of Minnesota-Duluth researchers wanted to know how shortening winters — and less ice cover on lakes — might i...
The Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) reports the introduction of the Algae Agriculture Act of 2018 (H.R. 5373), a bill that would give algae cultivators and harvesters ma...
Israeli-based Algatechnologies, Ltd. (Algatech) has become the major shareholder in Supreme Health New Zealand, Ltd. (Supreme) to supply the rapidly growing markets in Ch...
At the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Science Nordic.com reports, researchers are investigating bioluminescent algae, to determine whether bioluminescent organism...
Israeli-based Algatechnologies, Ltd. (Algatech), is teaming up with the Italian R&D company, Sphera Encapsulation S.r.l (Sphera), to develop innovative functional ingredi...