Blue Highway recently received a grant from the New York State Energy Development and Research Authority (NYSERDA) for development of biodegradable plastics for use in medical products. The grant will fund projects related to the production of biodegradable plastic from glycerol, a byproduct of biodiesel that is on the rise as an energy source. “By creating a plastic that is manufactured from a byproduct, we are not only ‘going green’ but also able to produce a product that is more economical and reduces our dependence on petroleum-based plastics,” says Dom Danna, Project Lead and Research Fellow at Blue Highway. In conjunction with Welch Allyn, a major supplier of diagnostic medical devices, and Tessy Plastics, a plastics processing facility located in Elbridge, NY, Blue Highway intends to refine the bioplastic production process and use the resulting plastic to create disposable, biodegradable medical products such as otoscope tips and probe covers.
The Metropolitan Development Association, Inc. granted Blue Highway funds for use in researching the manufacture and use of biodegradable polymers in medical applications. Research will focus on the potential to produce microbiologically synthesized bioplastics from residues produced by paper and pulp-making operations. Working with Blue Highway on this project is the CNY Biotechnology Research Center, SUNY ESF, Tessy Plastics, and Welch Allyn. According to Jim Nakas, a Professor at SUNY ESF, “These bioplastics are biodegradable, which means they reduce amount of waste from disposable medical devices. Also, they are derived from paper and pulp waste residues, which mean they reduce the environmental impact of the parent processes.”
Blue Highway received an incentive from Empire State Development, which is being used for expansion and development with a focus on lab outfitting, equipment acquisition, software purchase and implementation, and facilities extension. Al Di Rienzo, Blue Highway President and CEO, says, “This incentive allows us to equip our lab with state-of-the-art technology that will facilitate our research, which will eventually provide economic benefits to New York State as we develop products that are manufactured here in the Central New York area.” In addition, Blue Highway aims to expand a presence in the global market through production of medical diagnostic devices that are innovative, cost-effective, and created using environmentally sound practices.