UBC entrepreneurs be a part of struggle in opposition to plastic air pollution

New concepts embrace compostable bioplastics and revolutionary coating that extends product lifespan

The tip of plastic air pollution—within the oceans, on land and in our air—might be inside attain with two UBC ventures working laborious on options that might make this imaginative and prescient a actuality.

“Tonnes of plastic waste pollute our land and oceans,” says Dr. Jordan MacKenzie, co-founder and CEO of Bioform Applied sciences, a UBC start-up that’s engaged on bringing a very compostable bioplastic to the market.

“We use the world’s most regenerative supplies to create merchandise that sustainably eradicate plastic waste with out the inexperienced premium.”

‘Plastic’ from kelp and wooden fibre

Bioform turns kelp and wooden fibre—each plentiful in B.C.—into skinny however sturdy bioplastic movies that may be immediately used for functions like agricultural mulch movie, used to manage soil moisture and defend crops, or inflexible packaging merchandise reminiscent of beverage lids and takeout containers.

“Most pliable mulch is made out of polyethylene (PE) as a result of it’s low-cost and sturdy, however PE can keep within the soil for many years and trigger important environmental contamination,” says Dr. MacKenzie. “As nicely, meals packaging waste is a long-standing downside—tonnes of beverage lids find yourself within the landfill as a result of they’re virtually inconceivable to recycle.”

MacKenzie holds a PhD in fluid mechanics and developed the know-how throughout his time as a analysis affiliate after which analysis affiliate at UBC’s division of chemical and organic engineering with professor Dr. Mark Martinez, co-founder of Bioform.

The know-how—initially impressed by the spinning of dragline silk, the robust, stiff strands that kind spider webs— bridges pure processes and papermaking to provide rolls of movie that may be pressed right into a desired form with out warmth, lowering the environmental footprint and value of producing.  “Our know-how is sort of versatile and we’re at the moment creating biodegradable bioplastic tubing to be used within the hospital setting,” notes Dr. Martinez.

Bioform’s bioplastic decomposes shortly below regular family situations. Picture: Kai Jacobson/UBC Utilized Science

Not like different biodegradable plastics that require particular situations to interrupt down, Bioform’s bioplastic decomposes shortly below regular family situations, which MacKenzie demonstrates by throwing in a few takeout containers within the natural bin outdoors his workplace. Six weeks later, worms within the soil have damaged down the containers right into a handful of scraps.

Bioform was lately named among the many 50 most investable clear tech ventures and is aiming to go industrial scale subsequent yr. It plans to maneuver out of its facility at UBC’s HATCH Enterprise Builder into larger premises within the Decrease Mainland.

“It’s thrilling to see how far we are able to take this know-how to create new merchandise that don’t hurt the setting,” says Dr. MacKenzie. “We’re now at a stage the place we are able to compete in value and efficiency in opposition to a number of the most typical plastics.”

Self-healing polymer

A2O is testing novel polymers that when added to products like marine paints and industrial coatings can make them self-healing and weather-resistant

A2O co-founder Dr. Damon Gilmour reveals a novel polymer that may make merchandise like marine paints and industrial coatings self-healing and weather-resistant. Picture: Paul Joseph/UBC Utilized Science

The place Bioform appears to be like to eradicate nonrecyclable plastics, one other UBC enterprise, A2O Superior Supplies Inc., provides a distinct method to selling sustainability by means of a brand new class of supplies that make merchandise that work longer and extra effectively.

The A2O staff is testing a category of novel polymers that when added to different merchandise like marine paints and industrial coatings could make them self-healing and weather-resistant, rising their lifespan.

What makes the polymer distinctive is it has been enhanced utilizing an revolutionary, patented course of in order that it will probably rebuild itself when it’s torn and scratched—which the staff demonstrates by snapping a bit in half after which watching it reform right into a single intact piece.

“You could possibly virtually name these supplies alive. They’ve the flexibility to reply to stimuli and are self-healing,” says A2O co-founder Dr. Damon Gilmour.

“We’re trying to deploy these supplies in international industries reminiscent of transport, vitality and textiles the place the flexibility of the supplies to self-heal or reply to exterior stressors means the product can last more and work extra effectively.”

For instance, self-healing supplies have drawn rising consideration from battery producers trying to lengthen the lifespan of telephones, vitality storage units and related merchandise. This will even assist save treasured metals which can be required of their manufacture.

“These distinctive supplies possess a plethora of outstanding properties reminiscent of reversibility, flexibility, self-healing, adhesion, biocompatibility, thermal stability, anticorrosion and antimicrobial exercise unexpectedly, a mixture that can not be present in one other class of polymeric supplies,” notes A2O co-founder, chemical and organic engineering professor Dr. Savvas Hatzikiriakos.

A2O is at the moment scaling the know-how by means of pilot initiatives designed to deal with a number of the greatest environmental issues in trade, together with biofouling, corrosion and textile waste. Says co-founder and UBC chemistry professor Dr. Laurel Schafer: “It’s thrilling to see world-leading inexperienced chemistry know-how developed right here at UBC lead to new supplies with outstanding and transformative properties. The potential functions are very numerous and current inspiring sustainability analysis challenges for the staff.”

Each Bioform and A2O acquired assist from entrepreneurship@UBC, which brings entrepreneurial considering and management expertise to assist promising UBC start-ups unlock their potential.

“Since its inception in 2013, entrepreneurship@UBC has mobilized UBC innovation, serving to to translate the college’s modern analysis into tangible impression by means of the creation of ventures,” notes Dr. Sean Lumb, interim managing director with e@UBC. “It’s thrilling to see transformative ventures reminiscent of A2O and Bioform now bringing their options to market and fixing a number of the world’s most urgent points.”

Interview language(s):  English (MacKenzie, Gilmour)

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About e@UBC:

Since 2013, entrepreneurship@UBC has mobilized UBC innovation and entrepreneurship, serving to the UBC group to translate their innovation into tangible impression by means of the creation of transformative ventures. Working with a mess of colleges, institutes and scholar golf equipment, entrepreneurship@UBC prompts entrepreneurs and innovators in an equitable and inclusive setting by offering experiential studying, sources, and companies directed at firm creation, funding and progress. Up to now, entrepreneurship@UBC has supported 650 ventures who’ve raised $1.46 billion in funding, generated greater than $730 million in income and created 1,494 jobs, stimulating the financial and socal panorama of B.C., whereas constructing anchor firms which have international impression.

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