Charcoal, Sodium alginate


Made in

Biodegradable 228 Bioplastic 75 Circular 215 Plant-based 167 Regenerative 49 Textile 89 Vegan 87 Charcoal 6 Glycerine 34 Sodium alginate 14 Soybean 2

Charcoal, Sodium alginate

Photos: Meghan Mathews


CARBO is a novel bioskin that offers an eco-friendly alternative to traditional leather and oil-based materials. It is composed of activated charcoal and sodium alginate collected from sargassum, a type of algae that has overrun the coasts of Latin America. Sargassum is a sustainable source of biomass, and using it to make bioplastics contributes to a circular economy. Additionally, activated charcoal enhances the material's properties, such as improved odour and pollutant absorption, which is particularly relevant in the fashion industry.

Traditional leather manufacturing and petroleum-based materials such as polyester are substantial contributors to global pollution in the fashion sector. Leather production uses a lot of water and energy, and the tanning process releases harmful substances into the environment, such as chromium. Furthermore, livestock used for leather manufacture contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Petroleum-based fabrics, on the other hand, such as polyester, require the extraction of nonrenewable resources, and the production process releases greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants into the environment.
CARBO's production process, on the contrary, is low-energy and does not use toxic chemicals, making it environmentally friendly. Additionally, its production can contribute to the restoration of damaged ecosystems. Overpopulation of sargassum has caused significant ecological and economic harm to Latin American ecosystems. Sargassum is used in the production process to aid in its control, which can have a negative impact on nearby wildlife and tourism. Its formula has the potential to be carbon positive and contribute to carbon capture, thus aiding in the fight against global warming. The formula's activated charcoal has a unique ability to absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon is successfully sequestered and removed from the atmosphere when mixed into bioplastic polymers.

It is made by combining sodium alginate, glycerin, soybean oil, activated charcoal, and water to create a gel-like solution that is then poured into moulds and dried at a low temperature to generate sheets of bioplastic. This procedure uses no toxic chemicals, making it a more sustainable alternative to typical manufacturing methods. Unlike other bioplastic concepts based on similar components, CARBO features physical properties that make it quite malleable, heat-resistant, waterproof, and strong in comparison to other biomaterial concepts.

CARBO is a promising material that has the potential to transform the fashion industry by providing an eco-friendly alternative to conventional oil-based and leather products while also helping in the battle against sargassum proliferation.

Additional information

The sargassum seaweed is washed, dried, and ground to a fine powder. The powder is then mixed with water and heated to dissolve the sodium alginate. The solution is then filtered to remove impurities, and the sodium alginate is precipitated using a calcium chloride solution.

The sodium alginate powder is mixed with water to create a thick gel-like substance. Glycerin and soybean oil are then added to the mixture to increase its flexibility and durability. Finally, the activated charcoal powder is added to the mixture, and the resulting mixture is stirred thoroughly.

The bioplastic mixture is poured into moulds of the desired shape and size. The moulds are then dried at a low temperature to evaporate the water and solidify the bioplastic sheets. The dried bioplastic sheets are then removed from the moulds and cut to the desired dimensions.

Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.


Sodium alginate, active charcoal, glycerine, and soybean oil.


The Listen Fact, Shiori, Miguel Elola Zaragueta