Dordan successfully thermoforms algae-plastic, will display sample at Pack Expo

August 07, 2012

Dordan Manufacturing will introduce what it calls the "first-ever" thermoformed sample of Algix's algae-plastic at Pack Expo 2012 (October 28-31; McCormick Place, Chicago).

Using patent-pending technology, the Algix bioresins derive up to 70% of their feedstock from aquatic biomass obtained from nitrogen and phosphorus-rich wastewater, blended with various concentrations of PE, PP, EVA, PLA, TPS, PHA, etc. for use in a variety of applications.

Through research collaboration with the University of Georgia and technical innovations licensed from Kimberly-Clark, Algix seeks to commercialize the cultivation of aquatic biomass, such as algae, as a feedstock for bioplastic conversion. 

Aglix is located in Georgia, where over 150 carpet plants that produce millions of gallons of nutrient-rich wastewater are co-located. Research conducted at the University of Georgia has demonstrated high growth rates from various strains of algae and isolated top performing microalgae strains for further development.

The company's research and product development arm is aimed at producing biodegradable and bio-sourced polymers for a variety of applications such as disposable packaging containers for dry and liquid goods, agricultural and horticultural products and non-woven materials.

Ryan Hunt, director of R&D at Algix, contacted Dordan and indicated interest in collaborating with an industry partner to develop specific applications for their algae-based plastics.

"Once I became familiar with Algix's technology, I thought its algae-plastic would be an awesome addition to our Bio Resin Show N Tell, first displayed at Pack Expo 2010," Chandler Slavin, Sustainability Coordinator and Marketing Manager at Dordan, told PlasticsToday.

Dordan's Bio Resin Show N Tell is a display that consists of biobased, biodegradable, or compostable materials converted by thermoforming with associated specs and environmental profiles. The display is used as an educational tool to explain to interested parties the pros and cons of available materials, Slavin said.

Dordan received several 12-inch x 12-inch algae-PP sheets to attempt to convert via Dordan's sample press. Slavin said it took just one try to form the material over the sample mold, and the material, though different then 100% petro-based plastics, formed well.

When thermoformed using Dordan's sample press, this material behaved similar to other blended resins, like PP + calcium carbonate, she said.

"Assuming its price structure is competitive with 100% petro-based PP and performs similarly thereto, I don't see reason why this material couldn't be used for similar PP thermoform applications," Slavin said. "That being said, the material has a unique look and feel, possibly limiting its market penetration."

U.S. demand for bioplastics is forecast to climb at a 20% annual pace through 2016 to 550 million pounds, valued at $680 million, according to a study from The Freedonia Group Inc.

Although bioplastics have achieved a considerable degree of commercial success, it remains in an early stage of development, representing only a small niche within the overall plastics industry, the study stated. Going forward, technical innovations that enhance the properties of bioplastics and lower their price will drive growth.

"To date, few bioresins have met the economic and performance requirements of our clients," Dordan CEO and president Daniel Slavin said. "We are excited about the potential

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