Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Polymer Science and Engineering BS


Polymers and High Performance Materials

First Advisor

Heather Broadhead, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Yoan Simon, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Polymers and High Performance Materials


Conventional plastics derived from non-renewable petrochemicals – especially from fossil reserves – have become an integral part of human life because their structure can be chemically manipulated to obtain a wide range of properties and geometries necessary in nearly all industries. The volume and rate at which petroleum plastics are produced, used, and discarded has incited several significant issues related to human health, environmental conservation, and ecological biodiversity. To address these issues, many institutions have begun investigating solutions in both the development and end-oflife phases of plastic production and waste. In this thesis, a Chlorella-dominated algae mixture is dried and compounded at varying ratios with polylactic acid (PLA) at various particle sizes. The resulting blends were then characterized by thermal and mechanical analysis to examine processing and performance properties for injection molding. The blends were subject to weathering studies via standardized test methods and found that at 10, 20, and 30 wt.% algae, the blends are biodegradable with the rate of biodegradation directly correlated to the increasing concentration of algae.