It's the last thing you want to find floating on your backyard pool, but a Mississippi-based company called Bloom has developed a way to turn algae, that green slimy goo that makes it unpleasant to swim in a lake, into eco-friendly foam for use in yoga mats, sandals or luggage.
The company has developed a process where large algae blooms are collected using a specially-designed platform that floats along waste streams in the US and other parts of the world. These particular streams are often overly-rich in nutrients, which causes algae to thrive and grow into large booms. That's good for humans because algae is great at turning CO2 into oxygen, but not so great for fish — because those blooms block sunlight limiting their food supplies.
Once harvested, the algae is drained and dried, turned into polymer-like pellets, and then mixed with other materials to create the Bloom foam. Depending on what it's to be used for, the foam can be as much as 60 per cent algae, which will reduce the demand for petroleum-derived ingredients when Bloom starts production of its foam alternative next year.