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Issue 03/2022

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Highlights: Injection Moulding Beauty & Healthcare Basics: Biocompatibility of PHA Starch

Feedstock Not your

Feedstock Not your average SOS How to prevent algae crop collapse National laboratories discover the tell-tale signs of algae distress to target effective treatments and mitigate crop collapse. Algae are an exciting renewable feedstock for the future of sustainable fuels and products. Yet lurking in or around every algae pond are pests – grazers and predators that have the potential to devastate the algae crop. Algae ponds have the potential to crash or be overtaken quickly because of these pests, turning from a healthy, vibrant green to sickly brown and dead in a matter of hours to days. This rapid deterioration poses significant challenges for the scale-up of algae production in the future. However, what if there was technology to monitor and predict these pond crashes before they happen, giving pond operators time to deploy the right countermeasures? Researchers at the Sandia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (SNL and LLNL, Albuquerque, NM and Livermore, CA, USA respectively) are doing just that. Sandia scientist Todd Lane leads a collaboration between SNL and LLNL that has developed a rapid, cost-effective method to monitor chemical signals – called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – that algae emit when under stress. In a recent study in the journal Metabolites, the team describes how they tested whether their monitoring tool could distinguish between different types of algae stresses. Biotic stress occurs because of damage done by an organism while abiotic stress is caused by non-living impacts on a specific environment. More than Mayday: Algae’s customized distress calls In their study, funded through DOE’s Genomic Science program within the Office of Biological and Environmental Research, the team used the algae strain Microchloropsis gaditana and subjected it to either grazing by a rotifer (a tiny animal predator that eats algae) or a series of freeze/thaw cycles. In this way, they were comparing biotic with abiotic stress. Their discovery was promising and novel – algae being eaten by grazers put out different chemical signals than the algae that were frozen and thawed. Interestingly, there were also some chemical signals produced during both types of stress, suggesting that algae produce general stress signals alongside signals specific to a particular stressor. The group identified and reported on the specific VOCs that the algae emitted. These compounds can be used as chemical signatures to detect and diagnose early signs of stress in algal cultures with the goal of delivering targeted and effective treatments prior to a catastrophic culture crash. During a pond crash, algae rapidly turn from green and healthy to brown and sickly. Pictured here are example ponds (healthy and sickly) from the Algae Raceway Testbed at Sandia National Laboratories. Photo courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories Carolyn Fisher and Kristen Reese are co-first authors on the paper. Fisher was a postdoc at SNL when the work was carried out and is now a staff member at LLNL. Reese was a graduate student at LLNL when the work was carried out and is now a postdoc at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “The efforts of our work to develop early diagnostic markers of a pond crash, specifically VOC biomarkers from abiotic- and biotic-wounded algae, have great potential to increase the yield of algae-derived compounds, with the target of reducing prices of manufacturing biofuel and bioproduct production precursors”, Reese stated. Bacteria bodyguards bully potential algae grazers Alongside their work on algae monitoring, Lane and his team are simultaneously working on techniques to help algae crops resist being eaten. Rotifers and fungi are common grazers and parasites that can lead to rapid algal pond crashes. The team identified a bacterial community that can be grown alongside an algal species, Microchloropsis salina, that protects it from grazing by the rotifer Brachionus plicatilis. In a newly funded project, Lane and his team are extending their work to a series of relevant fungal pathogens. Their goal is to identify bacterial communities that can protect algae from fungal infection. Taken together, Lane and his team are using funding from BETO to advance the field of algae crop protection, which is critical to scale up algae for cost-effective biofuel and bioproduct production. To learn more about algae crop protection, see BETO’s recently published Barriers to Scale: Algae Crop Protection Workshop Summary Report. AT https://www.energy.gov/eere/bioenergy/articles/barriers-scale-algaecrop-protection-workshop-summary-report https://www.mdpi.com/2218-1989/11/10/707/htm 16 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/22] Vol. 17

New biodegradable guar-based polymers for beauty care Solvay (Brussels, Belgium), a global leader in naturallyderived beauty polymers, expands its range of biodegradable guar-based solutions, introduced in December 2021, with two additional thickening and conditioning polymers for beauty care. The two new ingredients, Jaguar ® NAT SGI and Jaguar Excel, will enable beauty brands to address stringent global regulations and growing consumer expectations for more responsible and sustainable beauty products. “Until recently, the availability of biodegradable functional polymers in the market has been limited”, explains Jean- Guy Le-Helloco, Home & Personal Care Vice-President at Solvay. “Our biodegradable Jaguar ingredients offer formulators a range of sustainable game-changers to create a wider choice of responsible hair and skincare products”. Next to developing the new biodegradable Jaguar ingredients, Solvay experts created the Beauty Biodeg Score chart based on the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) guidelines ranging from A to D. The two new ingredients Jaguar NAT SGI, a readily biodegradable thickening polymer (score A), and Jaguar Excel, an inherently ultimately biodegradable conditioning polymer (score B), meet the toughest criteria for biodegradability (Following the OECD 301 F and OECD 302 B guidelines). They complement Jaguar HP-8 COS SGI for thickening and Jaguar C500 STD for conditioning, both rated score B. Typical applications include shampoos, hair treatments, hair conditioners, styling gels, body washes, and powder-to-liquid cleansers. “By assigning a biodegradability score to our products, we help external stakeholders appreciate the swift progress Solvay is making in the development of biodegradable and sustainable products with full and transparent traceability”, says Galder Cristobal, Home and Personal Care Research & Innovation Director at Solvay. “We have entered a new phase of innovation with new polymer technologies and are investing in advanced biodegradation testing for nextgeneration beauty ingredients. Our new biodegradable Jaguar ingredients are just the beginning”. The guar beans used to produce the Jaguar polymers are a natural and renewable resource, partially sourced through Solvay’s Sustainable Guar Initiative (SGI) program in Rajasthan, India. The SGI program is designed to implement best farming practices, conserve groundwater, improve local quality of life and empower women farmers while securing high-quality guar supplies. Solvay’s commitment to sustainable beauty is at the essence of Beauty for the Planet, an initiative aimed at delivering sustainable beauty ingredients that work for consumers and the environment through innovation and partnerships with customers. AT www.solvay.com Beauty & Healthcare bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/22] Vol. 17 17

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