Polystyrene is a plastic that will get utilized in a wide range of functions. Higher identified by its commerce title “styrofoam,” this resin can be utilized as a stable or foamed, creating a lightweight materials able to cushioning merchandise as packing peanuts, shaped right into a surfboard, a disposable razor blade, or DVD tray.
Nonetheless, identical to different kinds of artificial plastics, it sucks for the setting. 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 setting for tons of 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 constructed from two supplies—polyurethane and expanded polystyrene (EPS). Each are light-weight, robust, and buoyant, all fascinating qualities for surfboards. Polyurethane boards are typically heavier and tougher to journey for novices than EPS variations, making them standard amongst surfers. However with over 2.5 million riders and over 400,000 boards produced a yr, it additionally fuels the manufacturing and demand of styrofoam that can stick round effectively 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 schooling—together with some browsing data—to discover a appropriate various to polystyrene foam, discovering it, curiously 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 a wide range of types till it reaches its ultimate state. Cruz’s chitin-based ultimate product also can get made in ways in which rival typical EPS.
The chitin utilized by Cruz Foam’s EPS substitute is materials derived from the discarded shells of seafood, bugs, and fungi. Chitin could be processed and shaped right into a biopolymer materials that may get made with properties much like typical petroleum-based plastics. Chitin has huge potential as a plastic various and will function a viable substitute 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 standard use instances for expanded polystyrene foam.
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