Orangesource is a biodegradable and non-toxic material, made out of orange peels, wax, and natural binder. The material utilises the by-products of food businesses, focusing specifically on cafes and vitamin bars in Turkey.
The 21st century has seen one of the best examples of material chemistry: plastics. Extreme durability, exceptional mechanical and chemical properties can be seen throughout plastic derivatives. Plastic achieves its duty very well, maybe too well. Its properties and durability cause plastic not to degrade for hundreds of years.
Fast trending industries (such as homeware, decoration, fashion) require lots of raw materials, but the materials used in the products are either not recyclable or do not get recycled after their use in developing or undeveloped countries. These situations call for sustainable alternatives.
Starting in 2020, with an innovation competition supported by United Nations Development Program, Kikkis started its material exploration journey. At the time of the competition, local byproducts of agricultural waste in the region of Çukurova (Adana, Turkey) were closely examined. Prototypes made out of walnut shells combined with natural binders were made.
Continuing further, material development was carried out throughout the year and with trial and error, promising alternatives were found out. From these alternatives, Orangesource was born.
Orangesource utilises orange peels and/or tea leaves to become products. Natural resin acquired from trees is used as the binder. Also, the wax comes from the trees. Combining tea leaves, orange peels, and both the orange peels and tea leaves with the binder results in a reasonably durable material.
Turkey produces around 1.9 million tonnes of orange per year. Turkey is also the number one in the world by tea consumption per capita (3,5 kilograms). This makes Turkey a great starting point, as materials used in Orangesource can be acquired locally.
The resulting combination of the ingredients creates brittle, mostly matte, and rough-surfaced material. Orange, dark brown coloured surfaces can be achieved depending on the percentages of the orange and tea leaves, and on the amount of time heat is exposed.
Added wax helps the biocomposite to be water-insoluble for a certain amount of time. After a certain period of time on the water, it loses its water-insoluble properties, which turn into crumbles after several days. It naturally biodegrades in the water. Orangesource has also been tested for its biodegradability on the soil. The material can be composted, as it naturally starts to biodegrade after a few weeks on the soil.
Due to the characteristics of the material, Orangesource can reflect all the details in the mould. Also, the material is susceptible too high temperatures, which makes it fit for hot press moulding applications. This also means the material has limited applicability on heat-resistant products.
Another advantage of the material is its regenerative properties. When the surface is exposed to abrasive surfaces, it leaves observable scratches. With the help of heat, these scratches can be turned into smooth, undamaged surfaces again.
Orangesource has also been tested for its recastable properties. Products made out of the material melts after a certain amount of heat is applied to the product for a time. After melting, it does not lose its original properties, which can be later moulded again to another product.
Orange peels and tea leaves are gathered from the local food businesses. The acquired byproducts are mainly high on moisture. These byproducts need to be dried, as high moisture can affect the final product’s material properties.
After drying, the peels and leaves are ground into powder. Powdered grains are easier to process to create finished surfaces. It also makes it easy to blend the resin and wax with the byproduct.
The natural resin and the wax are then melted at a stable temperature, which gains a watery consistency. The consistency allows byproducts to be blended into the mixture, as the resin and the wax are solid at normal conditions.
The melted wax-resin combination is later mixed with the powdered byproducts until the wax-resin combination is saturated enough. The usual ratio of the saturated combination is %60-65 byproducts and the rest is wax-resin. The byproduct ratio can be increased even further if the mixture is press-moulded, as pressure helps wax-resin to spread more efficiently.
The combined mixture stays in the mould for several minutes. As the temperature decreases, the mixture solidifies and it’s ready to go.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Orange peel/Tea leave, egg shell, beeswax or carnaubawax, pine resin