From the concrete buildings where we live, their glass windows, our electronics, and more, sand is everywhere around us. As of 2019, this equated to an average of 18 kg per person per day. An extraction rate that is exceeding natural sand replenishment rates.
In conjunction to this as avocado consumption keeps rising, in the USA alone, per-capita consumption has more than doubled between 2010 and 2020, could pulverised avocado seeds provide a viable sand substitute?
In a world where cement production alone accounts for 8% of global CO2 emissions, there is a need to reimagine alternatives to this material. Could the answer be in alginate, a binder made from brown algae extract, such as Sargassum? A macroalgae whose rapidly increasing presence in the Caribbean (from 2011 to 2014 alone, its presence grew by 10 times) constitutes one of the largest ecological threats to this mega diverse region where its inhabitants largely depend on tourism and natural resources.
Could these two proposed replacements, avocado seeds instead of sand, and alginate instead of cement, help as well in developing an alternative to concrete, the world’s most consumed substance after water and a large CO2 emitter?
‘Avocado Seed Brick’ is made from ‘Avocado Seed Adobe’, a re-interpretation of the traditional recipe for concrete that uses water, cement and sand. Instead of using cement as a binder, it proposes using a binder made from a brown algae extract. Instead of using sand as an aggregate material, it proposes pulverised avocado seeds.
This material has the potential to balance material excesses and shortages in the world. It can be used as an adobe, to make bricks, bowls and so on. This material development is part of a project researching material possibilities around avocado seeds. From a dye for textiles to leather, plastic, and glass substitutes, and even electricity and fuel for cars. Likewise, the project re-imagines the immaterial realities of such a world in which these proposals would evolve from speculation to reality.
On an ecological approach, the material deals with issues related to decarbonisation, circularity, non-extractivism. On a human approach, the material deals with re-imagining collaborations, exchanges and notions of belonging.
The process starts with the collection of the avocado seeds, which are provided by Cornelio Quechotl, a Mexican worker at Food Story, a supermarket that is located 1.6Km away from the Fragmentario studio. This collection occurs at variating times. Sometimes up to 2-3 times per week, sometimes only once a month. A variation that depends on the amount of seeds collected by Cornelio, as well as work load from Cornelio and María-Elena Pombo (Fragmentario).
Upon receiving the avocados, Pombo washes them in her studio and leaves them to air-dry. She grinds them several times until obtaining a fine avocado-seed-dust. This process lasts around a month, as to ensure the seeds are totally dry.
The binder is created by mixing the alginate with water until creating a gel. The avocado-seed-dust is mixed with this gel to create the ‘Avocado Seed Adobe’, which is then inserted into brick moulds. The material is let to air dry during approximately a month.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Avocado seeds, sodium alginate, water
Avocado Seeds Providers: Cornelio Quechotl at Food Story, Luis Lares at Cosme
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