Niigata U and Oki Collaborate in Developing Biodegradable Toner

Niigata University in Niigata, Japan and Oki Printing Solutions announced an agreement to jointly develop and manufacture environmentally conscious toner that uses biodegradable complex fine particles, originated from biomass resources. A toner prototype will be ready by 2009 and Oki Printing Solutions plans to market the product by 2010 globally.

Currently, the main element for toner in printers and copiers is plastic made from oil and fossil fuel. When burnt during recycling, they emit global warming gases such as CO and CO₂. In addition, de-inking printed paper during recycling consumes energy, and bleaching paper itself has also become a concern for the environment.

The main ingredient for the biodegradable toner to be developed by the university and Oki will be hydrophobic protein. The toner particles will include colorant and a charge control agent.

"Responding to the environment is a key principle for all of us. When this biomass originated toner becomes available in the market, CO₂ that was emitted when disposed or recycled will become virtually zero," said Masato Tanaka from the department of chemistry and chemical engineering. "In addition, toner will be made of biodegradable polymers, so by utilizing secession effect of the toner, energy consumption will be significantly reduced when turning them into recycled paper."

Under this agreement, Oki will evaluate physical characteristics to be used as fluid powder particles on toner and the printed output. Niigata will develop fluid on toner to be used for electro photographic printing system.

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Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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