Naturbeads, a company that produces plant-based alternatives to harmful plastic microbeads, has received funding to scale-up operations.
Naturbeads’ £1.3m (US$1.5m) of funding has come from Italian Venture Capital fund Progress Tech Transfer, Eos Advisory and Proionic.
Davide Mattia, the company co-founder and Professor of Chemical Engineering at Bath in the UK, which gave rise to the firm, said the 20–25 t/y demonstration plant will enable the company to produce commercial volumes of the product and provide evidence needed to scale the technology.
“While the widescale presence of microbeads is a good thing for our company it is depressing for the environment. Paints and coatings contain plastic microbeads and lots of prefabricated panels used in construction contain plastic microbeads,” Mattia said.
The process involves pushing a solution of cellulose through a tubular membrane into a channel of flowing sunflower oil. Droplets form on the surface of the membrane and are cleaved off by the flowing sunflower oil, stated The Chemical Engineer. They can then be separated out for use as exfoliants in personal care products and can be scaled for use in paint and construction. The cellulose is a biodegradable natural biopolymer from plants that can be easily sourced from agricultural waste.