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Non Food ... growing

Non Food ... growing algae ... Algae to Plastics Article contributed by Ross O. Youngs Chief Executive Officer Univenture, Inc. Marysville, Ohio, USA The newly formed company Algaeventure Systems is the latest quest of Univenture, Marysville, Ohio, USA, a media packaging company with a twenty-year history of innovation and packaging. The challenge began as Univenture sought bio-based feedstocks as a material option for its products. An exhaustive analysis was conducted on a wide range of bio-based materials throughout the world. Besides criteria such as product performance, material availability, potential supply chain or logistical issues, one aspect remained consistently important - material costs. One of Algaeventure Systems’ studies included a comparative analysis of yield per acre of the primary bio-based sources. Here was found that algae are capable of doubling its biomass in as little as two hours. In addition, algae produce fifty percent of the world’s O 2 while accounting for only 1% of the world’s biomass. The extraordinary yield results motivated a deeper study of algae. As Algaeventure Systems have discovered, algae can be grown most effectively and economically when co-located for capital and operational savings. Collocation examples would be coal-fired power plants, wastewater treatment plants, food manufacturing facilities or animal waste facilities. Nutrients are provided by these sources for the growth of the algae as well as waste heat to maintain the proper water temperature for optimal algae growth. Algae contain lipids or hydrocarbons that can range from C10 to higher than C50 that can provide the raw material for refining to bio-diesel. When enough lipids are obtained from within the algae cell it is possible to hydrocrack that oil. Thus precursors to polymer molecules can be obtained, which in further polymerization steps can be processed into plastics. Essentially any product today that is made based on petroleum could in the foreseeable future be replaced with algae. As algae grow naturally or in a system, such as Algaeventure Systems‘ Rapid Algae Farming (RAF) system, CO 2 is used to make the biomass while oxygen is released. If algae growth systems are co-located with a coal-fired power plant for example, the CO 2 from the facility can be fed as nutrients to the algae. When the carbon from the algae is used for making plastic, the carbon becomes sequestered in an eco-friendly bio-plastic. Algaeventure Systems (AVS) developed the Harvesting, Dewatering Drying technology (AVS HDD) - a system designed to emulate nature. The AVS HDD system utilizes very little energy and makes the economic viability of algae as a petroleum source foreseeable in the near future. The energy costs before the AVS HDD technology was 5 per ton to remove the water from algae. The energy costs with the AVS HDD is .92 per ton. With the most significant cost barrier behind them, Algaeventure Systems can now explore the limitless opportunities that algae can bring. Algaeventure Systems is actively innovating technologies to help make algae a viable bio-based renewable resource for plastics and other products. 36 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/09] Vol. 4

Hungry for Non Food sustainable, durable bioplastics? Article contributed by Michèl Verdaas Product Manager Solanyl Bioplastic Rodenburg Biopolymers B.V. Oosterhout, The Netherlands Article contributed by Michèl Verdaas, Product Manager Solanyl Bioplastic, Rodenburg Biopolymers B.V., Oosterhout, The Netherlands As experienced during the food crisis of 2008, renewable technologies have a strong impact on the way agricultural land and irrigation water is used. Or at least, that clearly is the public perception nowadays. One solution to avoid the ‘food vs. renewable raw materials‘ discussion is to use alternative raw material streams instead of ‘food grade crops”. As inventors and producers of the bioplastic Solanyl, Rodenburg Biopolymers has been confronted with the mentioned public perception as well. We spend quite some time to explain our customers and their end customers that our product is not based on raw material that could have been food and that this material is indeed GMO-free. The starch used in our production process solely originates from the potato-processing industry as a byproduct stream. Traditionally, the several by-product streams are used for live stock feed, but in Holland there is an abundance of such by-products. The type of by-product used for Solanyl amounts at least 100 tonnes/year just in Holland. Already in 1998 Rodenburg identified this stream as a high potential material for starch-plastics. As one may expect, this stream as is, needs further treatment before it can be used as raw material for starch-plastic. The technology to do so, including the conversion into TPS, obviously is Rodenburg’s ‘Coca- Cola secret‘. The resulting starch-plastic is fully biodegradable and certified compostable (EN 13432) up to 1.7 mm thickness. The material is engineered for injection moulding and over time Rodenburg gained experience to deliver a wide range of grades that will meet many demands. Research has always been an important part of Rodenburg’s activities and at the moment efforts are focused on the next generation Solanyl to add thermoforming and blow-moulding as processing technologies. Rodenburg has a fully owned subsidiary in Brazil and a joint venture in Canada, called Solanyl Biopolymers Inc. Partly through the efforts of Solanyl Biopolymers inc. the Clean Air Tree Kit ( has been developed. The package in the shape of a globe is based on Solanyl combined with PLA shrink wrap film. Another application is the ‘Greenbadge’. This is a name badge for fairs and events to which you can attach your business card ( These, and other applications such as brooms for street cleaning, a storage box, frisbees, a piggy bank, and a brochure holder can be seen in the picture. Rodenburg’s philosophy to use a by-product stream is a conscious one and this approach can also be applied to other agricultural waste streams. Therefore Rodenburg thinks that the next generation of bioplastics should focus more than ever on the raw material side of the production chain. By carefully choosing components we can prevent an unjustified public blemish on the green products the bioplastics industry is creating nowadays. bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/09] Vol. 4 37

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