A polylactic acid made by Germany's Fraunhofer UMSICHT is a key part of the Soma home water filtration system, which its developers call the “first 100 percent compostable” filtration system on the market.
The San Francisco-based designers of Soma turned to Fraunhofer's Bio-Flex material and bioplastic compound producer Fkur Kunstoff GmbH of Willech, Germany, to bring Mike Del Ponte's proposal to combine a “pure, modern design” with a sustainable material approach to market.
The PLA filtration system also uses a filter made of carbon from coconut shells, which is then placed in Soma's glass carafe.
Soma's designers found the material they needed in the bioplastic Bio-Flex S 9533, developed in cooperation with Fraunhofer UMSICHT and Fkur.
“For us it was important to develop a material running on conventional injection molding equipment,” said Hendrik Roch of Fraunhofer UMSICHT in a news release.
Soma faced a hurdle as pure PLA is rigid, with quite low impact strength, but Fkur solved the problem. “By means of an intelligent additive package and our special compounding technology we have been able to develop a PLA compound meeting all requirements,” says Carmen Michels, managing director of FKuR.
Soma users receive a fresh filter from Soma every 60 days and for each filter sold, Soma says it donates to the non-profit organization Charity: Water, which provides access to clean drinking water to people in need.