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

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our industry analysis highlights macro industry trends and micro trends faced by companies that do business in Mexico. The report also provides key industry statistics and forecasts to anticipate future industry expansion.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

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

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

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

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events