Chinese group visits Meridian to learn how Algix turns algae into products

[China, USA] A delegation from China is in Meridian to learn from Algix, its business partner, about making biodegradable products from algae.

The 17-member delegation has been visiting all week from Yixing, China, a city with 1.3 million people that was established in 221 B.C. Sixteen of the 17 members in the group were in the United States for the first time. Members of the envoy included two government officials.

Yixing is located on the western shore of Lake Tai, where the goal of Algix of improving the environment became aligned with the goal of the Chinese government, according to Algix’s website. Yixing has a severe problem with algae, which Algix uses to make various products around the world.

“We take algae out of waterways like catfish farms and wastewater treatment plants,” Algix CEO Mike Van Drunen said. “We dry the algae from the wastewater and get a green powder. We then mill it in a milling machine and then take the powder through our patented process and turn it into master batch plastic pellet. We take that into a foam sheet. From there, we make various products like foot soles in shoes, wall insulation for houses, insulation to wrap around pipes for commercial buildings, a 3-D filament where people can make things at home.”

Van Drunen said Algix, located on Water Tower Road, has been in Meridian a little more than two years and has been in the United States since 2010. The company relocated from Athens, Ga., to Meridian in July 2014.

Algix has a sister company in China, Algix China. Partners also include Jiangsu Jinshan Environmental Protection Engineering Group and the Institute of Environmental Science Institute of Jiangsu Province.

According to the website, Algix selected Meridian for its proximity to the aquaculture businesses in the region. The Algix technology will be used by a number of cities to fight the algae bloom problems similar to what Florida is experiencing.

Van Drunen said the local Algix team is showing the Chinese what is expected of them.

“They came here to better understand the quality and performance of what we expect out of our product,” Van Drunen said. “We’re teaching them how to do our business in China. We have a cooperative agreement with them. They’re ready to start making our products.”

Along with the Meridian company, Algix has operations in San Diego, Ohio and Alabama and internationally in Jamaica, where its fish farms are located.

“We’re the largest aquaculture company in the Caribbean. A fish, called basa, is only available in Vietnam, and we ship it into the United States,” Van Drunen said.

The delegation leaves Wednesday for Tallahassee, Fla. to discuss the state’s algae problem with Gov. Rick Scott.

“All 50 states have problems with algae. They will meet with Gov. Scott and other officials about the state’s environmental problems. They’re going to work with Florida officials and try and prevent that problem from happening again.” Van Drunen said.

Algix co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Ryan Hunt said a priority was trying to discover the highest quality algae.

“A goal was to secure consistent high quality algae from our algae production partners in China. Our partners specialize in harvesting algae blooms from the environment in an extremely efficient process,” Hunt said.

Pansheng Qian, CEO of JJEPEG, said through an interpreter that the trip was productive.

“We saw all kinds of technology that can be used in China to treat algae,” Qian said. “We want the algae to make biodegradable plastic, but need Algix to develop a good product.”

Yixin government official Chong Lu said he was impressed by what he observed.

“This was the first time I saw technology to use algae to make biodegradable products,” Lu said through an interpreter. “As a government official, we want to see this project developed in China and I hope to join the venture in China.”


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