A new type of plastic made from the material obtained from a microscopic organism

EuglenaResearchers have developed a plastic, actually “bioplastic”, from the materials obtained from the cells of euglena, which is a microscopic alga.

The research team is composed of scientists from the state-funded National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), NEC Corp. and the University of Miyazaki.

The materials include paramylon, a high molecular weight sugar similar to starch, and a wax ester, both extracted from euglena. Researchers have produced plastics by reacting sugar chemically with either euglena fat or cashew nut fat.

According to the researchers, this tiny organism synthesizes organic compounds potentially through photosynthesis and this new green technology of the production of algae-derived plastics would reduce the carbon dioxide emissions. This new plastic is relatively fragile but more malleable and heat resistant than conventional plastics, the researchers said.

This research has been done as part of the Advanced Low Carbon Technology Research and Development Program of Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).

Source: Daily Yomiuri Online, The Japan Times Online