Korean scientists develop manufacturing technology for eco-friendly algae bioplastics

Korean scientists develop manufacturing technology for eco-friendly algae bioplastics


A Korean research team has developed the technology
to manufacture eco-friendly bioplastics using seaweed. Not only is seaweed naturally derived and
inexpensive, the new material reduces the amount of harmful byproducts emitted during
the manufacturing process. Park Se-young has more. High-performance plastics are found in cars,
airplanes and smartphones and demand for them is growing. The global market for the material is estimated
to grow from around 15 billion U.S. dollars this year… to over 35 billion by 2026. On the downside, the material is manufactured
at high temperatures using toxic materials, emitting lots of environmental pollutants
in the process. But that could soon change… if the work
of a local research team proves successful. They’ve developed the technology to produce
eco-friendly bioplastics using seaweed. This technique is the first of its kind to
use lipids from algae. “The existing process requires high temperatures
and pressure and uses strong oxidizers, but we’ve reduced the level of energy consumption
and formation of environmental pollutants.” The new production process happens at room
temperature and doesn’t require any exceptional pressure conditions, reducing the amount of
harmful byproducts. To do it, the researchers extracted fat and
fatty acid from dried green algae. Then, an enzyme reaction of the fats created
carboxylic acid, a material used to manufacture high-performance plastic. Going forward, the research team plans to
develop the technology for mass production of the material and take its invention to
the market. Park Se-young, Arirang News.

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