A Drop In The Ocean
Over-absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide by the ocean lowers the ocean's pH, causing a 30% increase in ocean acidity since the industrial era. This change is starting to harm marine ecosystems, but this has been overlooked in the public, as people tend to see the needs of humans as a priority without thinking about the needs of ecosystems. Considered the “evil twin of climate change”, its effects are still mostly impacting marine life - not humans. However, communities relying on the fish industry are already seeing the negative impacts, as we can see in Madagascar or other vulnerable countries (coupled with coral bleaching, an effect of global warming).
Scientists, policymakers, and engineers have been researching solutions to the issue, grouping these into what is called “Ocean NETs” – Negative Emission Technologies – ranging from natural solutions such as Mangroves to man-made artificial technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage Facilities, these propositions need financial help from governments and years of planning to be put in place. So how could we, as a collective, help with ocean ecosystem regeneration from an individual to a global scale? How can we bring the public to become interested in issues, related to an ecosystem which is not theirs?
Expanded polystyrene is the leading form of marine litter from the ocean and coastal aquaculture activities, but there are currently no global estimates for the amounts of marine plastic litter generated from this sector. This project tackles the issue of Ocean Acidification from the root of CO2 emissions by replacing fossil fuel-based materials used for beach activities objects with pH-neutralising (adsorbing) natural reclaimed materials (oyster shells), natural CO2 absorbing minerals (Olivine) and natural seaweed binders, which not only cuts down CO2 emissions but also has the added value to help regenerate ecosystems at the end of life of the product. The material, whilst looking as heavy as concrete, is in fact quite light: one tray only weighs 80 grams and is also food safe. After use, the object is made to be left on the beach to act as a deacidifying agent for the marine ecosystems. It will take 14 days to dissolve, so it will not cause any visual or environmental harm to the surrounding ecosystem either. Finally, the material can also be used as fertiliser for soils or compost, as it also acts as natural pH neutralising agent for soils, after breaking down the whole product into small pieces or powder after use.
By giving people an object they already use in their life, they can relate directly to the scenario and use of the object, the different significances it has, which is here waste, production, plastic (or fossil fuel materials) and consumerism. When using this packaging, people are also interested in what makes it different from traditional packaging, thus making it also an object of interaction, giving the designer the opportunity to explain the issue and the benefits of the material.
If the 7.87 billion people on Earth started using this product as much as people use traditional plastic objects on the beach, we could collectively act as a global agent for deacidification around the world.
To recycle the oyster shells into powder:
1. Boil the oyster shells in water for 15 min.
2. Put them in the oven for 45 min at 200°C.
3. Put them in a towel or piece of fabric and crush it with a hammer.
4. Then crush it with a mortar and pestle.
5. For a very refined powder, put it in a blender or mixer, and make sure there are no hard pieces of oyster (it will break the blender).
To make the material:
1. Mix 2 Tbsp Alginate + 15 mL Water until it forms a semi-liquid texture.
2. Add 1 Tbsp Oyster shell powder + 1 Tbsp Olivine gradually, until it becomes completely incorporated (slightly thick).
3. Quickly pour the mixture into a mould (before it sets - would take 5-10 minutes to set) then you can leave it to dry for at least 24 hours.
4. Using a dehydrator or an oven would speed up the drying process (at 100°C), drying the material for less than less than 24 hours.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Olivine powder, oyster shell powder, alginate
Rocks Oysters (oyster shells providers), Greensand NL (Olivine sand providers)
Accessible to visitors of the Future Materials Lab