Frequently Asked Questions
About the algae we use in BLOOM foam
What causes algal blooms?
Key factors in rapid algae growth are a rise in global temperatures and a subsequent increase in water temperatures. Algae have also been impacted by increased human population growth, runoff into waterways, and from activities like overfishing, which increase nutrient loading. The negative effects of algal blooms can now be felt worldwide.
From where do you source your algae?
Our algae are harvested from waterways—like lakes, rivers, and ponds—at risk of heavy algal blooms. We currently have mobile harvester units set up in Mississippi, Alabama, and throughout China to harvest the algae. To learn more, visit our sustainability page.
How do you process the algae?
During harvesting, pond water with heavy algae bloom is pumped into a mobile harvester unit. The pond water is then mixed with a water-safe coagulant to help the algae clump together in larger masses (called flocs). Air bubbles push the flocs to the surface, which are then skimmed off into a collection tank. The water is filtered and safely released back into the pond, protecting fish and other aquatic life from being harmed during the process. A pump truck collects the algae mass (now called a slurry) from the harvester unit, and delivers it to a facility where it is dewatered and being dried via a solar drying process. After drying, the algae biomass is polymerized into pellets before eventually being expanded into a flexible foam with additional foaming compounds.
Are fish affected during harvesting?
No. Our custom built harvesting machinery is screened, and carefully separates the green water slurry through a skimmate process.
BLOOM foam 101
Are BLOOM foams biodegradable?
No, not currently. Our current efforts are working on algae-derived foams to compete in the high-performance footwear space. In order to meet or exceed existing performance standards in this market, we combine the exceptional thermoplastic properties of algae with ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) to enhance performance qualities compared to conventional flexible foams, but EVA itself is not biodegradable.
We are capable of manufacturing a biodegradable version of BLOOM foam depending on the application.
What other kinds of foam are you able to develop?
We are currently working with some customers on formulations for PU, PVC, and TPE foams, as well as fibers. Efforts are ongoing to ensure we can produce a quality product that meets our environmental and performance standards.
What makes BLOOM a more sustainable solution?
There are numerous benefits to BLOOM foam which make it a more sustainable alternative to conventional flexible foam. Our algae are harvested from freshwater sources at risk of heavy algal blooms. By harvesting the algae, we:
- Help keep the ecology in balance through remediation
- Use a non-food based source for raw material
- Reduce dependence on non-renewable oil
- Aid CO2 sequestration
- Utilize a GMO- and pesticide-free feedstock
To learn more about our sustainability practices, click here.
What gives BLOOM premium-grade foams their antimicrobial properties?
BLOOM’s antimicrobial properties are solely derived from the algae. Our scientists have developed a patented technology to effectively extract the natural antimicrobial component from the algae, which has been validated to be over 99.99% effective at inhibiting the growth of odor-causing bacteria, S. aureus (a gram positive pathogen), and E. coli (a gram negative pathogen), in the treated article.
Can I order samples?
Yes. Simply sign up to access PRO Resources. Once logged in, you can order swatch books and download technical data sheets.
How much does your foam cost?
We are competitively priced against conventional foams. Please contact us at 1 (877) 972-5449, or email us at email@example.com if you are interested in purchasing BLOOM foam.
How does BLOOM foam perform compared to conventional foams?
We custom formulate our foams to compete directly with conventional foam performance desired. Thanks to algae’s natural thermoplastic qualities, it is even possible to exceed performance standards compared to conventional foams.
How much algae content is in BLOOM foam?
BLOOM foams typically range from 15% to 60% algae biomass content in the foam formulation, depending upon the application’s performance requirements. We could make foams with nearly 100% algae content, for applications where certain performance values are less critical.
Where is BLOOM foam manufactured?
We are a vertically integrated manufacturing company with company-owned plants in Meridian, Mississippi and Wuxi, China. Our foams are manufactured in Asia. View our operations map to learn more.
How do algae become foam?
The plant protein found in algae, like other plant proteins, exhibits interesting properties when thermomechanical forces are applied to it. By definition, protein is comprised of polymer chains of amino acids. Thus, by applying these thermomechanical forces, the protein chains are denatured, deformed and stretched out in the orientation of the mechanical forces. In an extrusion process, the deformation and stretching allows the algae cells to deform and stretch and become elongated and entangled with a given thermoplastic base resin to form a masterbatch resin. Once the masterbatch resin is formed, then conventional foaming processing can be successfully utilized for manufacturing high performance flexible foams with high algae content.
Are there any performance benefits from using algae biomass to make a foam?
Yes. After numerous customer trials with some of the biggest names in footwear, we’ve found a dramatic increase to the foams elongation, tear strength, and compression deflection (just to name a few), over that of conventional EVA foams. These performance benefits exist solely on account of the algae.
Is there any allergen potential from using BLOOM foam?
No. All BLOOM foams are certified hypoallergenic and dermatologically approved. A clinical study conducted with over 200 subjects between 18- and 70-years-old found that BLOOM foam did not demonstrate a potential for eliciting dermal irritation or sensitization.
Are there any color limitations with your foam?
Currently we offer eight (8) stock colors. We can produce custom colors and color match most requests for agreed minimum order volumes. Due to the natural green pigmentation of algae, we cannot currently offer a white foam. We have a downstream pigment removal process in development to safely remove the pigment (chlorophyll) from the algae biomass without solvents or chemicals.
Please contact us if you have a specific project you would like to discuss with us.
In what densities are your foams offered?
We offer a virtually endless array of densities in sheet foam. Most commonly, we build our foams for customer specific applications and requirements. Typical hardness of our foams range from 35C to 55C.
Please contact us if you have a specific project you would like to discuss with us.
Does algae have any odor, and if so, is it noticeable in your foams?
Algae biomass has a natural odor, and we neutralize it as much as possible in our polymerization process. There is a slight natural odor to our foams, but nothing off-putting. We are working on a method to extract all of the odor profiles from our GMO-free algae biomass without solvents or chemicals before foaming. This should eventually allow us to offer an odorless algae-derived foam.
What is the CO2 sequestration component to your foams?
Yes, and a very big one at that. When purposed into a flexible foam, the algae become a permanent carbon sink. As a company, we've accurately extrapolated how much CO2 is sequestered per product using our third-party life cycle assessment data. As an example: A pair of 10.5 size men’s trail running shoes using BLOOM foam in the midsole and insole can sequester enough CO2 (on account of the algae) to fill approximately 20 standard sized balloons with CO2.
How does the CO2 sequestration work?
Photosynthesis allows plants such as algae to capture CO2 and convert it into O2 and carbon sources like sugars. These carbon sources are then used by the plants to make everything they need to grow and thrive. In most plants grown on land, a small fraction of carbon comes from the soil. But in aquatic plants like algae, nearly all of the carbon comes from CO2. This means that by weight, approximately 50% to 70% of algae is derived from CO2.
Do you have more questions?
We know, there’s a lot to cover. Send us your questions and we’ll get back to you within five business days.