[USA] Today Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) welcomed news that The University of Toledo (UT) will receive $50,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research into commercial development of an innovative method developed at UT to source certain chemicals from algae instead of getting them from imported vegetable oil or petroleum-based sources.
The chemicals extracted from algae through this method, called lipids, could be used to create certain types of Nylon most commonly used in car components, sporting equipment, medical devices and solar panels. These chemicals can also be made into materials that have practical application as an ingredient in liquid laundry detergents, lubricants or as a “carrier” ingredient in medication.
“This path-breaking research at The University of Toledo, one of Northern Ohio’s top graduate-level universities, has the potential to help our region invent the future and the new jobs that will come with it,” said Rep. Kaptur. “Extracting these commonly-used chemicals from locally-grown algae instead of from imported sources, especially foreign petroleum and palm oil, would be good for our economy and for the environment. Congratulations to the UT research team for this promising work. I look forward to learning more as this research progresses.”
Replacing petroleum and vegetable oil imports could have important macro-economic benefits: creating jobs, supporting U.S. energy independence, and divesting from global producers known for their environmental and labor abuses.
Kana Yamamoto, Ph.D., principal investor for the project, described some of the commercial goals of the research: “This grant will help us identify potential pathways to market. Ultimately we would like companies to license our technologies, and this award helps us find and develop the research directions best suited to achieving that goal.”
William S. Messer, Jr., Ph.D., Vice President of Research, said: “The research builds on efforts to convert biological materials such as algae into useful chemical products — a form of green chemistry. The I-Corps program is designed to explore the potential economic impact of basic research findings, and this project will examine the application of readily available plant materials to the production of useful chemicals such as detergents. Beyond the scientific merit of the proposed studies, the work may spark the development of new technologies that could form the basis for spin-off companies from UT.”
Steven E. LeBlanc, Ph.D., P.E., Interim Dean, College of Engineering, added: “This project is an excellent example of UT College of Engineering researchers applying their engineering expertise to develop sustainable processes for producing industrially significant chemicals. This project will help to commercialize those processes and reduce our dependence on imported chemical feedstocks.”
View original article at: Rep. Kaptur Welcomes $50,000 NSF Award For UT Algal Bio-Chemistry Research