To date, there are no sanitizing products on the market containing soap made from algae. However, the current energy, economic and environmental context is accelerating change and innovation in industrial processes.
It is in this sense that Sani Marc Group’s Innovation & Development team is working on a bold project in collaboration with the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and in partnership with other companies in Victoriaville’s Paul-André-Poirier Industrial Park (such as Lactancia, Abbott Laboratories, Gesterra and others) to market bio-sourced products derived from microalgae grown in wastewater.
This multi-sectoral approach relies on an innovative technique and is based on the same principle as the creation of biodiesel, a renewable energy used as an alternative to petroleum-based fuel. Among other things, this approach would allow biosurfactants, biolubricants and other bio-sourced ingredients to be produced for use in Sani Marc’s cleaning products, all while helping to clean the air we breathe!
How does it work?
As part of this major project, industrial wastewater is used as an algae culture medium. In other words, the waste found in this dirty water, which is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon, is used to feed algae (in our case, microalgae that are 10 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair).
The microalgae are first placed in basins containing this wastewater obtained from other companies in the industrial park. The microalgae will then proliferate in these basins and eventually be harvested and dehydrated. Finally, oil is extracted from the dehydrated algae and used to make organic soap, which in turn will go into manufacturing Sani Marc products.
We may not be turning “water into wine,” but using microalgae to turn wastewater into soap is no small feat!
Objectives and advantages:
- Significantly reduces the cost of raw materials
- Allows wastewater currently being treated according to conventional municipal technologies to be reused
- Develops an environmental conscience in the manufacture of products
- Captures carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere to convert into oxygen (thanks to the algae)
- Decreases the amount of chemicals used in water treatment
Although this technological breakthrough offers numerous advantages, algal biomass production is not likely to become profitable anytime soon as large-scale production is still some ways off. The ultimate goal, however, is not necessarily to make bio-sourced green surfactants profitable, but rather to create a circular economy whose loop eliminates the notion of waste. Circular economies strive to produce goods and services while at the same time vastly curbing the consumption and waste of raw materials.
A circular economy is an economic concept in line with the current movement toward sustainable development. Among other things, it is inspired by the notions of green economy and industrial ecology and is based on the premise that industrial waste can be recycled as raw materials for use in either the same industry or in another industry.