Foul smell from algae harvesting factory spread across half of a Chinese’s city

[China, USA] Last week, thousands of residents around lake Taihu in the city of Wuxi were complaining about a rotten smell spreading across almost half of the city.

Local resident Ms Chang wrote in her Weibo (an online social media) stating that the smell was everywhere, even inside the bus and at home. She described the foul smell to be like “rotten garbage”, and it was so bad that she couldn’t even sleep during the night. The smell had last for at least 2 weeks.

Algae bloom in lake Taihu of China.
Algae bloom in lake Taihu of China.

On the 12th of October, the city’s health authority deployed about 100 of their employees to search for the origin of pollution.

The next day, the city government made an announcement on their official Weibo, stating that the rotten smell spread around the lake area was originated from an algae harvesting factory nearby the lake.

The health authority and the city government launched an investigation and found that the company, name DLH (Delinhai) Tech Co. Ltd., was operating the algae harvesting factory without licence and approval from the city government.

The health official also accused that the company was conducting “unauthorized experiment” to process algae harvested from the lake.

Samples of the algae and the air were also collected to test for their toxicity and environmental impact.

DLH algae processing factory.
DLH algae processing factory in Wuxi.

According to the thepaper.cn, a Wuxi city local news media, Mr. Hu, the person-in-charge of the factory, assured that the foul smell is harmless.

In January 2015, DLH received order from a U.S. customer, supplying up to 5 metric tons of algae powder as raw ingredient for making bioplastics.

Since last year, DLH has been conducting research on processing the harvested algae into raw meterial which can be further processed into bioplastic ingredients.

In July 13, 2015, Plasticnews.com featured a news about the economic value of blooming algae harvested from lake Taihu of China. The dried algae powder were  sold to the USA at the price of USD 500.00/ton. An USA company discovered the method to convert the dried algae into valuable bioplastic ingredient.

Algix LLC, a company based in Georgia, is the only company in USA that converts bloom algae biomass into biodegradable plastic and 3D-printing materials.

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On 24 August, 2015, Algix LLC and Effekt LLC announced the creation of the worlds first algae-derived flexible foams. Both companies joined forces in a joint venture entitled Bloom Holdings LLC to commercialize the foam.

According to business.transworld.net, the foam is produced in a patented process that utilizes Algix’s dried algae biomass (GMO-free) which is solely collected from waste streams across the US and Asia.

On the 14th of October 2015, DHL was charged under the “Regulations on the Administration of Construction Project Environmental Protection Act” of China. The local environmental protection agency and the city government had issued a cease work order for “conducting unauthorized algae experiments” and summoned an administrative penalty to the company for “operating an algae processing factory without a licence”.

DHL company’s staff, Mr. Tao, explained in a local news media that “We have done nothing wrong. We are not conducting experiments. We are doing business and we have invested money on our business.”

Mr. Hu, the person-in-charge of the factory, had no idea when they could resume their company’s operation. The company signed a sales contract with their USA customer to deliver 1,400 metric tons of algae powder in batches through the end of next year.

 

Exclusively reported by Algae World News

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