De Algarum Natura
The project "De Algarum Natura" (2015) investigates the possibility of making effective use of the vast amount of seaweeds, which constantly accumulate on the worldwide strands. Triggered by the potential to be found within such overflow of marine biomass, Officina Corpuscoli explored the opportunity of creating materials from seaweeds and algae, by first extracting and than re-combining their main constituting components, for the creation of novel compounds with targeted features.
Algal biomass incorporates many different components, as for instance natural binders; agar-agar and carrageenan are some of those. Once extracted, these "ingredients" can be re-combined for the creation of a range of specific materials. By utilising different products extracted from seaweeds, specifically binders, pigments and biomass, a palette of diverse material samples has therefore been created.
All the materials developed so far are 100% biobased, fully biodegradable, and consist of components directly extracted from seaweeds; some of the materials also include a natural plasticising agent (glycerol) and a natural acid (vinegar).
All species of seaweed are very rich in nutrients and they contain a large amount of valuable components. The three selected seaweeds - Ulva Lactuca, Laminaria Saccharina and Fucus Vesiculosus - which have been subjected to most of the performed research at the studio are no exception.
Along the research process, the studio engaged in a collaboration with companies constantly collecting the large flow of algal biomass on dutch strands, for the production of a 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 just seaweeds and of the products they embed, without needing to use any additional compound.
Officina Corpuscoli keeps working on the investigative project, aiming to identify and further research the qualities and the potential of the many different seaweed species.
Text submitted by the maker
Twan de Vaal