Algenesis Unveils Groundbreaking Biodegradable TPU Material, Pioneering a Future Without Microplastics

SAN DIEGO, March 21, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) and Algenesis Corporation, a forward-thinking material science company born from the innovative spirit of UC San Diego, is proud to announce the publication of a seminal scientific study in the fight against microplastic pollution. The study, titled “Rapid biodegradation of microplastics generated from bio-based thermoplastic polyurethane,” published this week in Nature’s Scientific Reports, is a collaborative effort among researchers from Algenesis and UC San Diego, including Marco Allemann, Marissa Tessman, Jaysen Reindel, Gordon Scofield, Payton Evans, Robert Pomeroy, Michael Burkart, Stephen Mayfield, and Ryan Simkovsky. This publication showcases the development of a revolutionary bio-based and biodegradable thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) that promises to significantly reduce the environmental and health impacts of plastics and addresses one of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time: microplastic pollution. This innovative new material is the latest product from the Soleic® brand polyurethane materials made by Algenesis, which will be available this year in applications like coatings and injectable plastics.

Microplastics are tiny, nearly indestructible fragments shed from everyday plastic products. Research has shown that they accumulate in our oceans and ecosystems, and, alarmingly, within human bodies themselves. Recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Toxicological Sciences have demonstrated the presence of microplastics in human placentas and heart plaques. The presence of these particles is a direct threat to human health, and they are associated with increased mortality. These findings point to an urgent need to remove existing microplastics from the environment, while simultaneously adopting sustainable materials that do not produce these persistent microplastics.

Algenesis’ latest breakthrough is the development of a bio-based TPU that directly addresses the microplastics crisis thanks to its biodegradability. Algenesis demonstrated in its study that tiny plastic particles from this new TPU are able to rapidly biodegrade under home composting conditions. For the study, they purposely generated microplastics from the TPU material using a belt sander, and then studied how these particles biodegrade in the natural environment. They discovered that even common soil microorganisms are capable of growing on the microplastics, and use them as their sole carbon source. These bacteria eat these transient plastics and turn them into harmless nutrients and carbon dioxide. This work is a step towards reducing pollution by creating material from natural plant sources (instead of petroleum) and ensuring that these materials won’t leave lasting microplastic waste in the environment.

Co-founded by a trio of esteemed UCSD scientists—Stephen Mayfield, Michael Burkart, and Robert “Skip” Pomeroy—Algenesis has been at the forefront of sustainable material innovation, with previous developments including foams that biodegrade in compost, soil, and marine environments. These foams have been incorporated into shoes with their direct-to-consumer brand Blueview® Footwear (, and in products developed via their business-to-business materials brand, Soleic®, including coated fabric made by Trelleborg and phone cases made by RhinoShield, that will be available later this year.

“The petroleum plastic products that are all around us now, including recyclable plastics, are constantly shedding microplastics through daily use, wear and tear, and the recycling process itself. Even though they are tiny, they don’t go away at the molecular level and because microplastics are so small, they are the most difficult form of plastic pollution to clean up,” said Ryan Simkovsky, Chief Technology Officer for Algenesis and the corresponding author of the publication. “Through a combination of direct visualization, respirometry, microbiology, and analytical chemistry, our team has demonstrated if or when our Soleic® plastics generate microplastics, they will only be transient in nature and will rapidly decompose in the environment, because common microorganisms are capable of biochemically eating them as nutrients. This has to become the future of all plastics, as we simply cannot continue to pollute our planet and our bodies with microplastics.

The study further illustrates the material’s practical applications through the creation of TPU-coated cotton fabrics and injection molded phone cases, both of which meet physical specifications for commercial products. Both applications underwent rigorous testing, showing clear structural degradation and significant biofilm formation, indicating real-world biodegradability.

Algenesis’ partnership with Trelleborg, a world leader in engineered polymer solutions with extensive expertise in coated fabrics, underscores the material’s versatility and potential to disrupt industries ranging from aerospace applications to outdoor apparel. “Our collaboration with Trelleborg enables us to bring this cutting-edge material to market, offering consumers sustainable alternatives that don’t compromise on quality or performance,” stated Stephen Mayfield, CEO of Algenesis.

RhinoShield, one of the world’s top producers of tech accessories will be launching a Soleic® injectable smart phone case made from the new bio TPU material. “RhinoShield is looking forward to teaming up with Algenesis to tackle the world’s plastic issue. We’re equally enthusiastic about establishing sustainable standards for the phone case industry” said Eric Wang, CEO of RhinoShield.

Algenesis’ biodegradable TPU material represents a major leap forward in reducing the production and accumulation of microplastics, thus safeguarding our ecosystems and human health. This innovation aligns with Algenesis’ mission to lead the way in creating materials that are not only high-performing but also inherently kind to the planet.

About Algenesis

Algenesis is a material science company dedicated to transforming the sustainability landscape through innovation. With its roots in the research excellence of UCSD, Algenesis is committed to developing Soleic® branded materials that pave the way for a sustainable future. We disrupt the petroleum plastics industry through our cutting-edge technology that makes plant-based materials durable, affordable and biodegradable to empower manufacturers to create a world without plastic pollution. By focusing on the intersection of science, technology, and environmental responsibility, Algenesis is not just creating great products, but fostering a movement towards a greener, cleaner world.

For further information, please contact:

Stephen Mayfield
Chief Executive Officer
619 871-7388

SOURCE Algenesis Corporation