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Project

Algae-Derived PLA

Nowadays, the bioplastic industry is using edible materials such as corn, sugar beet, wheat and potatoes in the manufacture of bio-based resins, entering in direct competition with food and feed uses. Brand owners and the European Commission are concerned about the fact that edible agricultural resources are being used to manufacture bioplastics, and they have indicated that the development of alternative biomass sources is required. In contrast, algae as an alternative biomass source for bioplastics do not compete with food or existing industrial uses and can be cultivated in seawater, saving fertile land and fresh water for food cultivation.

The objective of ECLIPSE is to develop novel waste-derived packaging concepts using a feedstock unrelated to fossil fuels and to the food chain such as the algae biomass waste. The potential to obtain commercial algae-derived PLA represents a significant breakthrough in the greening of the plastics industry, a crucial transformation to ensure the long-term sustainability of the planet.

 

Biopolymers are seen as promising sustainable alternatives to conventional petrochemical products. Until now, however, their wide-spread use has been sometimes hampered by unsatisfactory material properties, difficulties during processing and high cost of biopolymers.

The main concerns of PLA apart from its price are its poor thermal resistance and limited gas barrier properties, which prevent its complete access to industrial sectors such as packaging. Even though there are many limitations, these challenges are expected to be overcome during the course of ECLIPSE by fully exploiting the advantages of micro and nanocomposites.

The double purpose algae approach for biodiesel and lactic acid production.