Lowell Team Wants to Spin Peels, Algae into “Surfactants”

A team of students from the University of Massachusetts Lowell will receive up to $90,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop nontoxic, biodegradable “surfactants” from fruit peels and algae and potentially bring the invention to market.

Surfactants are cleaning agents used in soaps, inks and other products to help them apply more easily to surfaces. Many surfactants are non-biodegradable or degrade into toxic products. The UMass Lowell students developed a process to convert polysaccharides from fruit peels or algae into safer surfactants

The grant is one of seven awarded nationally under the EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) program.


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