From pond scum to sneakers


Algix, an American company, turns algal blooms into everything from surfboards to shoes

Eutrophication is a leading cause of damage to many freshwater ecosystems around the world. It occurs when a body of water becomes too enriched in dissolved nutrients such as phosphorus and ammonia. This nutrient overload stimulates the growth of aquatic plant life such as algae. When these dense algal blooms eventually die and are decomposed by bacteria, they deplete the oxygen levels in the water and create ‘dead zones’. A lack of sufficient oxygen means that fish and other lifeforms cannot survive. When water runs off a farm and into waterways, it carries away nutrients from manure, fertilizer or pesticides. This agricultural runoff is one of the main contributors to eutrophication. Algix has found a way to turn this harmful situation around. The company uses a filtration process to harvest algae from waterways and removes harmful levels of phosphorus and ammonia. After the application of heat and pressure, the protein-rich algae biomass is transformed into a bioplastic called BLOOM. This material can be used to make objects like clothing, sporting equipment, shoes or car upholstery.