Bioplastics manufacturing using seaweeds
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.