Japanese researchers make plastics from microalgae

Kyodo

A team of Japanese researchers said they have succeeded in producing plastics using euglena, microscopic algae capable of photosynthesis, as the main raw material.

The team, which includes researchers from Miyazaki University and the state-funded National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, said Wednesday it had managed to extract high-molecular sugar formed by the microalgae and produce plastics by making the sugar chemically react with either euglena fat or cashew nut fat.

Around 70 percent of the synthesized plastics are of plant origin and match petroleum-derived plastics in terms of plasticity and heat resistance, according to the team.

The production process for algae-derived plastics is expected to emit less carbon dioxide than conventional plastic production, which involves high temperature and high-pressure reactions using oil, the team said.