Parley is proud to continue our partnership with Biofabricate and collaborate for the 2018 summit.
Join us at New Lab in Brooklyn on December 13 to be part of the Material Revolution.
As part of our ongoing series of Biofabricate 2018 profiles, we catch up with Jeff Beegle of Mobius to find out more about their work with natural materials and polymers that combine to create plastic-like materials that biodegrade after use.
Why lignin – what’s so great about it?
Lignin is a waste product of the paper and biofuel industries that is generated at over 50 million tonnes per year. This number is expected to increase to 150 million tonnes per year by 2025, as more biorefineries come online. Lignin is natural polymer that exhibits UV inhibition and antibiotic properties, which makes it a great feedstock for materials.
Actually let’s go back, what is lignin?
Lignin is the glue that holds plants and trees together. It's roughly 1/3rd of the weight of all woody biomass and is what's removed in the paper making and biofuel processes. Each species of tree has it's own ‘flavor’ of lignin and they are all a little different.
How do you turn it into plastic?
Our process combines lignin and biodegradable polymers that exist on the market today into a pelletized plastic resin. From this process, we can tune the mechanical properties and biodegradability of our materials. After we make the resin pellets, they can be dropped into conventional processes, like injection molding or thermoforming, to make finished goods.
What are the advantages of your material over traditional plastics?
We have three advantages with our material. First, we are utilizing an organic waste stream as a feedstock for our materials, which helps us and future customers reduce our carbon footprint. Second, all of the feedstocks we use are bio-based and biodegradable in compost and soil. As the materials degrade, they will provide carbon and nutrients to the soil or compost. Third, we can tune the mechanical properties and biodegradability of our materials, which helps match material specifications with the finished product needs.
What’s your personal favorite ocean creature?
Jellyfish! They’re a unique organism because their lifecycle moves from a polyp (almost plant-like form) to an adult jellyfish and back in a nearly endless cycle. This evolutionary adaptation for different lifestyles and functions is a great analogy for the circular economy. Also, the identification of natural bioluminescence compounds in jellyfish has been extremely impactful on the medical and life sciences. Overall, I think jellyfish are a fascinating and beautiful organism, and are often overlooked.
Jeff will be speaking more about Mobius at Biofabricate 2018, alongside Parley founder Cyrill Gutsch, Biofabricate’s Suzanne Lee and other key leaders in the field.