UC San Diego Scientists Perfects Biodegradable Flip-Flops Made From Algae


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Comserve Inc.

Aug 11, 2020, 07:00 EST


Bronx, United States, Aug 11, 2020, 07:00 /Comserve / -- The scientists and researchers of a public university, the University of California, San Diego, have made a break-through invention by producing the world’s first biodegradable flip-flops made from algae.

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California, August 10, 2020: The scientists and researchers of a public university, the University of California, San Diego, have made a break-through invention by producing the world’s first biodegradable flip-flops made from algae. This is especially beneficial for beach lovers and sun-seekers that carry plastic flip-flops which are non-degradable and pollutes the environment.

The researchers at UC San Diego, along with the team of La Jolla start-up company Algenesis Materials, have spent years trying to create a solid foam-like material made out of oil extracted from algae to make the green beach sandals. The first prototype of this invention was developed in a York Hall chemistry laboratory. It comprised of a flexible, spongy slipper painted with a Triton symbol and a fairly basic strap.

Earlier, petroleum polymer was used in the production of flip flops which is vital for the longevity and comfort of the footwear but at the same time, it posed a threat to the environment as they take a very long time to break down once discarded. To solve this problem, the researchers have come up with a new grade of footwear made of algae oil that degrades in the environment within 16 weeks making it environmentally friendly. The process happens in a cycle in which first the enzymes are extracted from the organisms degrading the foams. It is then used to depolymerize these polyurethane products which also include other intermediate steps. The depolymerized products are then isolated and are used to synthesize new polyurethane monomers, completing a ‘bioloop’.

This project is co-led by Natasha Gunawan, a graduate student from the labs of Professor Michael Burkart (Department of Physical Sciences) and Stephen Mayfield (Department of Biological Sciences), along with Marissa Tessman from the team of Algenesis Materials. The polyurethane foam (made from the algae oil) in flip-flops makes it lightweight, durable and user-friendly. Post-production, the price of each pair of flip-flops is expected to be cheap and affordable.

About Algenesis Materials

Algenesis is a US -based start-up company which deals with material science and technology. Its mission is to help the planet recover from pollution by developing environment-friendly products and technologies.

About UC San Diego

It is a public research university located in La Jolla, California. It was established in the year 1960.

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