Algae itself, as well as ingredients derived from or manufactured alongside algae, have been cropping up lately and are, thanks to the EPA, now set to become quite the beauty industry craze.
Natura cosmetics of Brazil recently announced an initiative to formulate products with microalgae oil, a venture which touts the sustainability of algae-based ingredients. “We are always looking for ingredients from renewable sources and technologies inspired [by] nature, targeting low environmental impact processes and high performance solutions,” affirms Daniel Gonzaga, director of advance research with Natura, in a media release about the new formulations.
And just last month, chemical manufacturer BASF began selling Dehyton AO 45, an algal betanine made using Solazyme’s AlgaPūr microalgae oils.
Both of those projects have roots in Brazil, which is fast becoming a country known for its natural beauty ingredients.
In the EPA’s Clean Power Plan however, Algae Biomass Organization, an algae industry trade association, sees great potential for existing and future projects in the States. "The rule gives new certainty to a number of companies across the nation that are commercializing algae-based technologies that convert carbon dioxide generated at power plants into fuels, feeds, fertilizers and other valuable products,” explains the group in a press release celebrating the plan.
One industry’s trash is another’s treasure. And often personal care and cosmetics makers cleverly opt to work fresh ingredients that other sectors of the economy see as waste (think, grape seeds, skins and stems from wine making; or used cooking oil).
“A number of algae companies across the country are working to commercialize new technology advances that convert concentrated sources of CO2 to renewable fuels, chemicals, fertilizer, plastics and feed ingredients, as well as high-value products such as Omega-3 nutritional supplements, powerful antioxidants, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics,” confirms ABO in the release.
Plants and pollution
That bit in the Clean Power Plan about converting carbon dioxide is exactly why the new pollution emission guidelines matter in the algae industry. Algae are ravenous when it comes to CO2; they are well known for being a carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technology.
Thus, the ABO points cheerfully to a line in the guidelines that reads: "state plans may allow affected EGU (Electric Generating Units) to use qualifying CCU technologies to reduce CO2 emissions that are subject to an emission standard, or those that are counted when demonstrating achievement of the CO2 emission performance rates or a state rate-based or mass-based CO2 emission."
On the whole, the Clean Power Plan is designed to speed up the decline in air pollution from carbon and sets a course for the US to reduce carbon pollution from the power industry by over 30% in the next 15 years, according to the agency.