Shell, Kelp

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Shell, Kelp

Maker Regenerativo: Taller Experimental de Biomateriales inspirado en la pesca artesanal de Valparaíso

Given the current state of environmental emergency, the project “Maker Regenerativo” (2022) is born out of the need of new materials, for which nature offers new possibilities for the development of biobased materials, not only related to its components but also to nature's regenerative and circular behavior.

The experimental biomaterials workshop organized by Valparaíso Makerspace had the aim to explore, experiment and create new materials based on local and endemic resources that can be found in our territory, in order to use these materials for prototyping at Valparaíso Makerspace.

The workshop was focused on the exploration and creation of a new material based on the opportunities to be found in the overflow of local marine biomass: Handpicked seaweed found in the shores and discarded seashells collected at traditional fisheries of Valparaíso, obtaining a ceramic-like composite that can be projected as new material opportunities into local small-scale fisheries.

Following Material Driven Design methodologies, tinkering and prototyping, students explore design opportunities given by the great source of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) found on Pink clam shells (Mesodesma donacium) and alginate (natural binder) obtained from cooking Bull kelp (Durvillaea antarctica), also known as Cochayuyo.

Along the research and experimentation process, students work in the characterisation of the novel material studying its physical properties and the new speculative opportunities given by the symbiotic relationship between nature, science and design.

The fundamental aim is to comprehend materials beyond its disposable cycle, but as drivers of collaborative ecological niches standing out for its dignity, performance and cultural-ecosystemic identity.

Additional information

Seaweed binder
Naturally detach blades, stems and holdfasts of Cochayuyo algae (D. antarctica and D. incurvata) are carried by strong waves to the coast, which are handpicked from the shore.
The seaweed is cleaned and fragmented in small pieces. Fragments are oven-dried at 100ºC for 2 to 2:30 hours, and then are cut in small pieces to grind them until they become powder.
Cooking 16 gr of powder with 100 gr of water turns into a thick gooey paste. This will be the binder of the composite with a 16% algae concentration.

Seashell powder
Remaining Pink clam or razor clam shells (Mesodesma donacium), a bivalve that is native to Chile used by ancient marine culture, are collected from local fisheries that otherwise are considered as waste and disposed.
Seashells must be washed to remove remaining waste.
Oven-dry the shells for 1 hour at 200ºC - this will make the shells more brittle.
Place the shells inside a cloth bag and smash them with a hammer, and sift shells with a 5mm sieve to control the maximum size of shell particles.
Use a blender to grind the particles until they become powder. Use a 1mm strainer to control the particles of the mussel powder.

Composite
Mix 50 gr of the 16% seaweed solution with 100 gr of the mussel shell powder.
Pour the mixture into a mould and let air-dry for at least 24 hours or place it in a dehydrator at minimum temperature (35ºC to 50ºC) until the piece is completely dried.

Ingredient list

Seashell, bull-kelp seaweed

Credits

Mariana Boubet, Valparaíso Makerspace, Fundación Cocinamar, Dirección General de Vinculación con el Medio PUCV, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

Photo credits

Mariana Boubet