Biopolymers: are any polymer that is made from monomers derived from living organisms, usually
microbes, plants or animals. A subclass of biopolymers are bioplastics. While Henry Ford utilized
soybean oil to make plastics for a car he was developing, the use of biological materials was quickly
replaced by cheap and readily available petroleum products. Today biopolymers are enjoying a
renaissance as new biodegradable plastics - formed from renewable raw materials - are entering the
marketplace. The use of renewable sources means real change for the current polymer industry
which is almost completely based in petroleum products. Not only is petroleum a finite
nonrenewable source, the plastics derived from petroleum products often creates a waste
management issue as they are typically non-biodegradable.
Our goal at Algenesis is to create 100% renewable, biodegradable bio polymeric products starting
with products focused on the outdoor recreation industry. Cost, compatibility, performance, and
sustainability are all challenges for converting renewable resources into industrial materials. In
addition, for bio-polymer to make their way into the supply chain, sufficient quantities of the
materials at competitive prices are required. At Algenesis, we recognize this reality and have
decided to enter into formulating bio-polymers built around the outdoor recreation industry. We
feel this group of niche consumers embraces the environmental and sustainability impacts of
renewable bio-polymers and bio-plastics. Our initial product is to replace a key component in
polyurethane surfboard foam with one derived from a renewable source. We chemically convert
algae oil into polyols. (Poly – many + ol for alcohol or OH groups = polyol). From these we can
formulate polyurethane foam that has the required performance characteristics for use in surfboard
blanks. We started with surfboards because in surfing, more than almost any other sport, you are
totally connected and immersed in the ocean environment, and yet that connection to that
environment is through a piece of plastic made from fossil fuels. We thought that was not right, and
we believe that the surfing industry agree with us.
Although the surfing industry wants renewable and biodegradable products, those products must
still meet highly demanding performance characteristics. Issues of compatibility and performance
result when the bio based materials do not allow a direct replacement into an existing formulation.
The key then is to re-formulate the bio-based polymers to obtain a finished polymeric product with
the performance expected by the manufacturer. This is exactly what sets Algenesis apart from all
other bio-based chemical company – a complete dedication to developing sustainable renewable
biodegradable products that meet the most demanding specification.