De Algarum Natura
The project 'De Algarum Natura' (2015) investigates the possibility of making effective use of the vast amount of seaweeds, which accumulate worldwide. Triggered by the potential to be found within such overflow of marine biomass, design studio Officina Corpuscoli explored ways of creating materials from seaweeds and algae, by first extracting and then re-combining their main constituting components, for the creation of novel compounds with targeted features.
Algal biomass incorporates many different components, for instance, natural binders; agar-agar and carrageenan. Once extracted, these ingredients can be re-combined to create a range of different materials. By utilising different products extracted from seaweeds, specifically binders, pigments and biomass, a palette of diverse material samples has been created.
All the materials developed are 100% bio-based, fully biodegradable and consist of components directly extracted from seaweeds; some of the materials also include a natural plasticising agent such as glycerol and natural acids such as vinegar.
All species of seaweed are very rich in nutrients and contain a large number of valuable components. The three selected seaweeds - Ulva Lactuca, Laminaria Saccharina and Fucus Vesiculosus - have been researched so far.
Alongside the research process, the studio collaborated with companies collecting the large flow of algal biomass on Dutch strands, for the production of natural fertiliser, utilised for the growth of the world’s only biological flower bulbs. Following an alkaline extraction process, a fibrous (waste) material is left behind. Such waste streams constitute the basis for creating novel algae-based biomaterials with diverse qualities.
The ultimate aim of the project is to effectively produce different qualities of materials (e.g. hard, translucent, flexible, resistant) by making use of seaweed and the qualities they embed, without needing to use any additional compound.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Twan de Vaal