Surfers are typically the first to see how behaviors of modern society are impacting the ocean, and as a result often become the ocean’s most vocal advocates or early adopters of new sustainable technologies.



John Felts, a 31-year-old UC Santa Cruz electrical engineering Ph.D. student, and UCSC associate professor in electrical engineering Marco Rolandi, 40, to create a more sustainable alternative to traditional polyurethane foams. They use a material called chitin that is present in shellfish like crab, lobster, and shrimp. Chitin is affordable, durable, and can be used to create a foam that is much less toxic than polyurethane or expanded polystyrene.



“The use of non-renewable foams is a problem for every person on this planet: plastic pollution in the ocean is a persistent contaminant that harms both humans and animals. Polystyrene foam takes over 500 years to degrade; currently US landfills contain over 30% by volume plastics with the majority attributed to polystyrene and polyurethane.

Cruz Foam transforms chitin, a bio polymer found in shrimp shells, into structural foams with an environmentally friendly process. Currently over 30,000 tons of industry-grade chitin is produced annually, and simultaneously every year landfills are filled with 8 million tons of shrimp, crab,and lobster shell waste.



Cruz Foam addresses both the front-end and back-end of a ‘green’ product by up-cycling chitin found in waste to create foam to replace petroleum-based foams. It’s less costly to produce, and matches or exceeds the mechanical properties of current polystyrene and polyurethane structural foam.”

Via Cruzfoam