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PrimaLoft Backs New $1.2M Plastics Biodegradability Lab

UMass Dartmouth has opened a state-of-the-art research, learning and product development Biodegradability Laboratory at its School for Marine Science & Technology.

The Biodegradability Lab was created through a private-public partnership, including a $739,936 Massachusetts Technology Collaborative grant and a $450,000 investment from PrimaLoft, which specializes in developing sustainable high-performance insulations and fabrics. The lab supports the development of biodegradable and ocean-safe plastics and other materials by accelerating their path to market with a focus on sustainability.

“The opening of the new biodegradability lab at UMass Dartmouth is another incredible example of Massachusetts leading the way toward a more sustainable future,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said. “The research conducted and the products developed within the lab will offer industry and academia opportunities for growth.”

The laboratory will provide research capacity for evaluating plastic biodegradability. It was designed to measure biodegradation of products in environmental systems where plastic waste persists, including landfills, oceans, wastewater, soil and compost. The lab components and key features were designed in close collaboration and with critical feedback from PrimaLoft textiles engineers, chemical engineers and environmental scientists.

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Assistant research professor Micheline Labrie explains the intricacies of the new lab to Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito

In addition to PrimaLoft, partners on the project include Radical Plastics of Beverly, Paramount Planet Product, UMass Boston, UMass Lowell, the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Boston-based SeaAhead and the U.S. Army Soldier Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center.

“UMass Dartmouth is a perfect location for this new facility to build on the university’s strong marine science and engineering focus, coupled with the South Coast’s strong heritage of textile innovation,” said Pat Larkin, deputy director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “Our thanks to the many corporate and research partners on this project, including PrimaLoft, that will power this critically important research partnership.”

PrimaLoft CEO Mike Joyce said the company’s investment is a “wonderful opportunity to bring together a business with a specific need and a university with the ability to bring it to life.”

“This lab is positioned to be one of the premier biodegradation labs in the United States and our hope that this lab will be the nucleus of an expanding center for sustainable innovation and research in the SouthCoast region,” Joyce said.

This latest project advances UMass Dartmouth’s faculty- and student-driven research in advanced materials, the Blue Economy and sustainability.

“UMass Dartmouth is committed to supporting the rapidly growing Blue Economy by conducting research in important areas such as increasing ocean sustainability, monitoring ecosystems, producing renewable energy and developing new marine technologies,” the school’s chancellor, Mark Fuller, said. “I am grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration and alum Mike Joyce for allowing our students to learn alongside faculty doing groundbreaking research in the biodegradability lab.”