Polystyrene is a plastic that will get utilized in quite a lot of functions. Higher recognized by its commerce identify “styrofoam,” this resin can be utilized as a strong or foamed, creating a light-weight materials able to cushioning merchandise as packing peanuts, shaped right into a surfboard, a disposable razor blade, or DVD tray.
Nevertheless, similar to different kinds of artificial plastics, it sucks for the surroundings. When changed into foam, the cumbersome items of plastic float round waterways and wash up onto shores as non-biodegradable trash, slowly leeching microscopic items of plastic into the surroundings for a whole lot of years.
Cruz Foam co-founder and CEO John Felts, an alumnus of UC Santa Cruz, loves browsing however realized that the fabric used to catch a wave was additionally inflicting it hurt. That is as a result of surfboards at the moment are primarily comprised of two supplies—polyurethane and expanded polystyrene (EPS). Each are light-weight, robust, and buoyant, all fascinating qualities for surfboards. Polyurethane boards are usually heavier and more durable to trip for newbies than EPS variations, making them common amongst surfers. However with over 2.5 million riders and over 400,000 boards produced a 12 months, it additionally fuels the manufacturing and demand of styrofoam that may stick round properly after its rider will get eaten up by the 50-year storm.
It is this sobering truth, together with the “1000 Surfboard Graveyard” artwork set up, that motivated Felts to make use of his engineering training—together with some browsing information—to discover a appropriate different to polystyrene foam, discovering it, apparently sufficient, within the ocean through seafood waste.
Utilizing a patented course of, Cruz Foam takes recycled chitin from sources like seafood processing, forming it into granules, powder, or flakes, then mixing it with an eco-friendly, water-based answer that varies relying on the specified properties of the ultimate product. The combination is then foamed up and washed off, permitting the chitin to kind the specified construction. The froth can then get dried in quite a lot of kinds till it reaches its ultimate state. Cruz’s chitin-based ultimate product also can get made in ways in which rival standard EPS.
The chitin utilized by Cruz Foam’s EPS alternative is materials derived from the discarded shells of seafood, bugs, and fungi. Chitin will be processed and shaped right into a biopolymer materials that may get made with properties just like standard petroleum-based plastics. Chitin has huge potential as a plastic different and will function a viable alternative for food-safe cling film and shopping bags, along with foam.
It is nonetheless early days for Cruz Foam, however the agency has been raising cash, with the newest spherical of funding in November 2020. Based mostly on Cruz Foam’s web site, the main target has additionally moved away from surfboard blanks into different functions like packaging and automotive supplies, all common use instances for expanded polystyrene foam.
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