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Courtesy of Mike Allen and Steve Gschmeissner

BIV Round 1: Sustainable inks – a broad brush approach to screen for vibrant algal pigments

Principle investigator: Matthew Davey
Scottish Association for Marine Science

Living Ink is a biomaterials company on a mission to use sustainable and renewable algae technologies to replace petroleum-derived products, such as ink. Currently, the majority of industrial pigments are derived from petroleum, such as carbon black. Living Ink are changing the way pigments are made by using algae as colorants for ecofriendly Algae Ink™ products. They have successfully commercialized the world’s first black algae-based ink that has a negative carbon footprint, is bio-based, resistant to UV-light exposure and is safe. Customers are constantly inquiring about the availability of coloured algae-based inks and so their goal is to expand the range of colours in their product line. Algae naturally synthesise a wide range of pigments across the colour palette – ranging from green, blue, yellow, orange and red. The purpose of this project is to explore other algal species that might be suited for sustainable ink processes by interacting researchers at the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP), the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban, Scotland and Living Ink. A number of algae, especially those that were isolated from extreme environments, will be examined to test for the pigment colour, content and stability (such as do they degrade at high or low temperatures or pH). Having a new range of algae that Living Ink can work into their ink making processes will be of huge benefit to the sustainable products sector.