Plastic waste may soon outnumber fish in the ocean. At the same time, we are increasingly reliant on plastic materials in expendable ocean instruments to predict the weather, guide maritime shipping, and model our changing climate. These instruments are left to accumulate as waste long after their useful life. Most so-called “biodegradable” plastics do not actually degrade in the cold, dark ocean environment, limiting the options for scientists and instrument manufacturers that want to align their practices and their principles. The ocean-based Blue Economy requires innovative solutions for its material needs.
We are a team of material scientists, microbiologists, and oceanographers working across industry, academia, and government to develop biodegradable materials for the ocean.
Our ocean-degradable materials are based on the biopolymer polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) produced by Mango Materials. Because PHB is a compound naturally made by bacteria, many marine bacteria have also evolved to fully degrade PHB to carbon dioxide and water, without the creation of microplastics or other harmful byproducts. Our technology incorporates innovative “living materials” embedded with naturally-occuring PHB-degrading bacteria that begin to degrade the material on triggered contact with seawater. We design solutions with a range of degradation rates and shelf lives suitable for a variety of ocean instrument applications–and beyond.
- University of California Santa Barbara
- University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography
- University of Rochester
- Mango Materials
- Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary