Soma is the first designer water filter in the world made from natural resources. The bioplastic used for this filter is Bio-Flex®, a material developed by Fraunhofer UMSICHT in cooperation with FKuR.
It all started with an “oops.” When Mike Del Ponte, founder of Soma, hosted a dinner party, he was unwilling to place a cheap plastic water filter on his nicely set table. Instead, he decided to pour the filtered water into a glass wine decanter.
Soma Water filter: Glass carafe with water filter made from bioplastic Bio-Flex®. © Soma Water, Inc.
But as he poured, the lid of the water pitcher fell off, causing water to gush all over the kitchen floor. The idea for Soma was born in this moment: to combine a pure, modern design with a sustainable and holistic approach. However, the requirements were not trivial.
Soma’s designers spent a long time searching for a suitable material for the filter unit. This material needed to be functional, but also made from renewable resources and biodegradable when disposed of. Soma finally obtained what they were looking for from bioplastics specialist FKuR. The bioplastic Bio-Flex® S 9533 used in the manufacture of the water filter has been developed in cooperation with Fraunhofer UMSICHT and FKuR and is based on the bioplastic PLA (polylactic acid).
“For us it was important to develop a material running on conventional injection molding equipment,” explains Hendrik Roch, Fraunhofer UMSICHT. But pure PLA is rigid with relatively low impact strength. “By means of an intelligent additive package and our special compounding technology we have been able to develop a PLA compound meeting all requirements,” says Carmen Michels, Managing Director of FKuR.
The filter unit is composed of a casing made from biodegradable Bio-Flex® S9533 and contains absorbent carbon derived from coconut shells. Customers receive a fresh filter from Soma every 60 days. For each filter sold, Soma donates to the nonprofit organization ‘charity: water’, which provides access to clean drinking water to people in need. Thus, the Soma water filter meets all of founder Mike Del Ponte’s requirements as a beautiful and sustainable water filter that gives back.
The filter is proven to reduce chlorine, taste and odor through its special filter system and fulfils all requirements of the NSF/ANSI standard 42 of the Water Quality Association.
The Soma water filter with glass carafe has already received several awards. Never has the pleasure of delicious water been as easy.
Bioplastics are a unique class of materials which are based on renewable resources and/or enable the biodegradation of products made from these polymers.
Iris Kumpmann | Fraunhofer-Institut
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