Algae Comin’ Round the Mountain

U​​tah-based company WNDR Alpine is reinventing how skis are made, replacing petroleum products with algae-based oils and bioplastic to design materials specifically for backcountry skiing. Their AlgalTech™ ski materials fuse biomanufacturing, chemistry, and material science with advanced fabrication to unlock better performance.

As Fox 13 News in Utah recounts the story, the process begins with biologists and polymer chemists in Alameda, CA growing the algae in fermentation tanks, and then transitions to WNDR Alpine’s design lab in Salt Lake City for materials and product development.

Petroleum has historically been a key ingredient in materials across the outdoor industry. But there are only so many types of material innovations and performance gains we can get from petroleum.

Enter algae. Algal Core is a vertically laminated composite of biobased high-density polyurethane and domestically sourced aspen. This combination reduces weight and offers damping properties otherwise unattainable in solid wood core construction while remaining stable and intuitive to ski.

Algal Wall is a cast polyurethane sidewall that protects the Algal Core and delivers more superior damping than traditional materials. To implement this material, it is poured as a liquid into a channel on the outside of the core, creating a seamless and virtually unbreakable bond with the core as the sidewall hardens.

Together with developing their materials, WNDR Alpine has a vision of seeking new modes of backcountry travel “through the weightlessness of powder snow.”

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