Ann Arbor, Michigan: Ecovia Renewables, Inc. announced today that the company was awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Under the award, Ecovia Renewables, Inc. will receive approximately $750,000 over two years to develop a suite of BioGel™ biopolymer materials for hygiene applications, particularly for use in the absorbent cores of infant diapers. The proposal, entitled "SBIR Phase II: Efficient Production of a High Performance and Eco-Friendly Superabsorbent Microbial Biopolymer for Hygiene Applications,” explores a novel microbial co-culture fermentation route for cost-effective production of biodegradable and non-toxic superabsorbent materials from renewable biomass resources.
“This award allows us to continue our mission to develop eco-friendly, biobased solutions for the personal care industry,” said Dr. Jeremy Minty, President of Ecovia Renewables. “BioGel materials can be incorporated into hygiene products like baby diapers without compromising quality and performance.”
Super absorbent polymers, known as SAPs, are used in a variety of applications and are primarily composed of petrochemical-based polymers like sodium polyacrylate. These materials are non-biodegradable and are used in the absorbent core of disposable diapers, among many other personal care products. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, babies use over twenty billion disposable diapers per year in the United States with the vast majority ending up in landfills. The Environmental Protection Agency says this represents between 2-3 percent of total garbage waste.
In addition to cost savings from the EcoSynth™ platform, BioGel™ biopolymers offer distinct performance advantages over competing biodegradable co-polymers like starch grafts, including higher absorbency under load, greater free swell, and faster lock-up. This translates to a lighter, less-leaky, more functional baby diaper. They also have the ability to be customized to the specific product requirements of manufacturing partners.
About Ecovia Renewables, Inc.:
Ecovia Renewables is a privately-held renewable chemicals company focused on the research and development of high-performing biobased materials and fuels. It was founded in 2014 by Dr. Jeremy Minty and Dr. Nina Lin to commercialize their EcoSynth™ platform, spun out from their research at the Dept. of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan. More information about Ecovia Renewables is available on the company website or can be requested by contacting Dr. Jeremy Minty, President, at jeremy.minty(at)ecoviarenewables(dot)com.
About the National Science Foundation's Small Business Programs:
The National Science Foundation awards nearly $190 million annually to startups and small businesses through the Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. The non-dilutive grants support research and development across almost all areas of science and technology helping companies de-risk technology for commercial success. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $7 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. To learn more about the NSF SBIR/STTR program, visit: http://www.nsf.gov/SBIR.