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Microalgae: Factories for Improved Polymers

Modern life has benefitted from the development of polymers that can be fashioned into everything from car parts, to children's toys, to medical devices. But manufacturing begins with petroleum, which brings inherent disadvantages. Dr. Scott Franklin of Checkerspot describes how his company is using microalgae as factories to sustainably construct the building blocks of elaborate polymers, and offers a business plan to bring high-performance products to environmentally-conscious consumers.

Jul 16, 2022 by Dr. Kevin Folta in Talking Biotech

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The foundation of many modern consumer products begins with petroleum. Fossil fuels contain the building blocks of higher-complexity polymers, and are used in the creation of everything from high performance plastics in medical devices to your computer screen. But using petroleum use is not sustainable and has impacts in climate and pollution. What if the same molecular polymer backbones could be produced using biological organisms? Dr. Scott Franklin from Checkerspot explains how microalgae are being used to manufacture the fundamental building blocks of high performance polymers in a system that creates zero waste. These chemical backbones are used to create high-performance polymers that are fashioned into sporting goods for consumers interested in sustainability.


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