Energy Awareness Month: Did You Know...Insulation, Yoga Mats, Mattresses, Flip Flops, and More Can Be Made from Algae?

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Bioenergy Technologies Office


October 8, 2021

Energy Awareness Month: Did You Know...

Insulation, Yoga Mats, Mattresses, Flip Flops, and More Can Be Made from Algae?

Flip flops made from algae

An algae-derived flip-flop prototype made by Algenesis in its University of California, San Diego laboratory. Photo courtesy of Daniel Fishman

Foams are a ubiquitous consumer product, supporting people in many different ways—think yoga mats, seat cushions, mattresses, insulation, footwear, and more. These diverse products all have one thing in common: they’re made from polyurethane.

A group of researchers—algal experts from the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and the University of California, San Diego—made waves (literally!) in the hunt for more sustainable polyurethane with the world’s first algae-based surfboard.

While that breakthrough generated interest globally, the team knew there was more work to be done. The foam that went into the surfboard, and a range of other products like flip-flops, was only half algae. The other half of the foam recipe still called for a petroleum-based family of chemicals known as isocyanates.

Discover how the team went on to achieve 100% renewable foam in BETO’s Bioprose: Bioenergy R&D blog New Foams Made Entirely from Algae Could Support Your Next Yoga Mat, Skateboard, or Mattress.

This research is supported and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office.