Researchers make bioplastics from algae, sunlight

EUROPEAN PLASTICS NEWS

Published: March 4, 2013 4:37 pm ET
Updated: March 4, 2013 4:43 pm ET

DAVIS, CALIF. — Researchers at the University of California, Davis, are using the biological reactions in blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, to produce the raw materials needed to create fuels and plastics. With concern growing over the use of food crops in the production of fuels and bioplastics, the new technique could free up agricultural land for food production while making use of previously unexploited wetlands.

Working with support from Japanese chemicals group Asahi Kasei, the UC Davis team has used cyanobacteria to convert carbon dioxide into the chemical feedstock 2,3 butanediol.

"Most chemical feedstocks come from petroleum and natural gas, and we need other sources," said Shota Atsumi, assistant professor of chemistry at UC Davis.

The cyanobacteria use photosynthesis to turn carbon dioxide and sunlight into chemicals with carbon-carbon bonds. The UC Davis researchers, working with Hisanari Yoneda, a visiting researcher from Asahi Kasei, identified enzymes that produced the reactions they were looking for and introduced these enzymes' DNA into the cells of cyanobacteria.

Presently, it takes three weeks to produce 2.4 grams of 2,3 butanediol per litre of growth material, which is the highest yield yet produced for any chemical grown from cyanobacteria; enough for Atsumi to consider the potential for commercial development. Atsumi hopes that further experimentation may increase yields and produce different chemical feedstocks; and commercial partners are exploring how the technology can be scaled.

The U.S. Department of Energy has set a goal of obtaining a quarter of industrial chemicals from biological processes by 2025.


Comments

Researchers make bioplastics from algae, sunlight

EUROPEAN PLASTICS NEWS

Published: March 4, 2013 4:37 pm ET
Updated: March 4, 2013 4:43 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story

Market Reports

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Market Review & Outlook 2014

This special report from Plastics News examines the North American plastics recycling industry and provides insight into indicators that impact market viability, including Resin pricing trends for virgin and recycled market material and historical Resin production trends for post- consumer and industrial waste.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events