21. Mar 2017
Ecovia Renewables, Inc. has announced that the company was awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant of approximately $750,000 over two years from the National Science Foundation (NSF), for development of a suite of BioGel biopolymer materials, particularly for use in the absorbent cores of diapers.
A novel microbial co-culture fermentation route for cost-effective production of biodegradable and non-toxic superabsorbent materials from renewable biomass resources will be explored
“This award allows us to continue our mission to develop eco-friendly, biobased solutions for the personal care industry,” said Dr. Jeremy Minty, President of Ecovia Renewables. “BioGel materials can be incorporated into hygiene products like baby diapers without compromising quality and performance.”
The goal is to create BioGels that can exceed the performance of the current generation of biodegradable starch based absorbents and offer a viable alternative to the petrochemical-based non-biodegradable polymers like sodium polyacrylate currently used in the absorbent core of disposable diapers, among many other personal care products. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, babies use over twenty billion disposable diapers per year in the United States with the vast majority ending up in landfills. The Environmental Protection Agency says this represents between 2-3 percent of total garbage waste.
Ecovia Renewables is a Michigan-based privately-held renewable chemicals company founded in 2014 by Dr. Jeremy Minty and Dr. Nina Lin to commercialize their EcoSynth platform for cost-effective production of high-performance, biobased chemicals, spun out from their research at the Dept. of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan. In addition to cost savings from the EcoSynth platform, BioGel biopolymers offer distinct performance advantages over competing biodegradable co-polymers like starch grafts, including higher absorbency under load, greater free swell, and faster lock-up. This translates to a lighter, less-leaky, more functional baby diaper. They also have the ability to be customized to the specific product requirements of manufacturing partners.