Researchers Develop Plastic Out of Pond Scum
Dutch designers Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros are adding to the world of biopolymers by taking algae out of the ponds and into our homes, so to speak.
The designers, whose research/innovation is on display at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam as part of its Change the System exhibition, grow algae, dry it out, and then use it as material for 3-D printing.
The belief is that eventually this bioplastic—along with other bases such as mycelium—will replace regular plastic altogether by creating a network of biopolymer 3-D printers that people can use for their own use.
"Our idea is that in the future there will be a shop on every street corner where you can 'bake' organic raw materials, just like fresh bread," Klarenbeek said in an interview.
"You won't have to go to remote industrial estates to buy furniture and products from multinational chains. 3-D printing will be the new craft and decentralized economy."
The designers advocate that, instead of using products that emit carbon dioxide, such as fossil fuels used to make plastic, people use plant bases for their products, which bind with CO2 and reduce atmosphereic carbon levels.
They note that all products—including houses and other structures—can be a form of CO2 binding.
"If we think in these terms, makers can bring about a revolution. It's about thinking beyond the carbon footprint: Instead of zero emissions we need 'negative' emissions,” they said.
The duo is currently working on algae cultivation at the AlgaeLab at atelier LUMA in Arles, France, in addition to the exhibition in Rotterdam, which will be on display until Jan. 14, 2018.