Fabrics from Natural Materials Studio are made from algae

May 3, 2022 by  
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In a world of waste and pollution , returning to all-natural products makes sense for the health of humans and the planet. Danish Designer Bonnie Hvillum made it the focus of her work to create such options, resulting in a collection of bio-materials made from algae, clay and foam. Sample products of clothing , curtains and drapes were made from the materials. They were then put on display in a collaboration with multi-disciplinary design brand Frama. The collection was on display in Frama’s Copenhagen showroom during the Days of Design Festival in 2021.  Related: Charlotte McCurdy, Phillip Lim design carbon-neutral algae sequin dress Material research by Hvillum was well underway when she discovered the like-minded Frama. They also experiment with natural materials in their lifestyle object designs.  “I design interactive user experiences with a playful yet visionary approach, constantly exploring the potential in the unseen. That allows me to create highly sensory experiences that offer, at the same time, an insight of nature’s available resources and how to use those creatively,” said Bonnie Hvillum, founder of Natural Material Studio. Specifically, the fabrics included in the showroom display were created from products found in the environment . Alger is a seaweed fabric made from seaweed extract and softener, which is dyed with spirulina algae. Terracotta is a clay-pigmented biofabric formed using a protein-based binder extracted from collagen and a natural softener. B-foam is a product that has been in development by the Natural Material Studio since 2019. Charcoal is the base for the material, which had been previously featured in the Days of Design Festival.  The process includes hand casting the fabric inside wooden frames. After a few days of drying time, the designs are then cut from the frames.  As natural materials, all three are biodegradable. Inasmuch, Hvillum hopes the materials will become mainstream options, but encourages continued research on the potential beyond the bespoke fashion, interior design and furniture items Natural Material Studio developed. “These are early-stage versions – beta versions, pilot versions, whatever we call them in other industries . They do not live up to quality standards for fabrics yet, but hopefully they will one day with more research, testing and application trials continue,” said Hvillum. Her goal is to explore what is possible and encourage others to do the same without getting caught up in the challenges. The display at Frama set the stage of organic -looking prototypes that show the possibilities. This includes Japanese-inspired curtains and concept clothing.  + Natural Materials Studio  Images via Natural Materials Studio

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Fabrics from Natural Materials Studio are made from algae

Spanish housing project is simple but sustainable

May 3, 2022 by  
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In a changing world, the people in it have also evolved. That’s why the housing solutions of the past no longer work in today’s world. El Refugio, designed by Álvaro Sánchez de Miguel, is a housing project that’s based on real-world lifestyle trends. Fewer and fewer people want to live surrounded by concrete and human-made objects. This is a common situation in Spain , where El Refugio is located. As a result, the home is all about elegant, simple design. It’s also sustainable, budget-friendly and surrounded not by concrete, but by nature. Related: Crash after hitting the waves at this surfers refuge El Refugio is in the Cuatro Calzadas area of Buenavista, Salamanca, Spain. And it can house 84 residents. Local construction materials from Salamanca were used to create the project, including steel, wood and ceramics. The furniture was designed on-site to reduce carbon emissions . A little background: Project Architect Alvaro Sanchez de Miguel was born in Salmanca. He has received international awards and knows firsthand what kind of housing will suit the people of his homeland the best. Therefore, he wanted to create housing that provides spaces for rest, play and work. Simple a warm and welcoming environment . Furthermore, El Refugio is tucked into the natural landscape. It is a short distance from the world-famous Plaza Mayor, a historic attraction. It’s only about 90 minutes away from Madrid where there is the food, culture and natural beauty of Spain. Moreover, the project is made with a rounded geometry that mimics the nearby Castilian Plateau. The preserved existing vegetation sits surrounded by oak trees. The existing trees were left in place and the project was built around and between them, rather than forcing their removal. The entrance to the building is accessed through a natural lateral path. The porch is designed with latticework to create a lovely private outdoor area. The home is spacious and open inside. There are no doors, no partitions, just wide-open areas and panoramic views of the landscape beyond. The house is situated so that it is protected from the western sun, preventing heat that would make the home harder to keep cool. The final design is a simple, elegant building that sits beautifully tucked into nature. Huge windows and open spaces bring the outside world in. It’s constructed with local materials and designed by a local architect to be the ideal housing solution for its location. Because great housing design doesn’t take away from nature, it adds to it. + Álvaro Sánchez de Miguel arquitectos Images via Álvaro Sánchez de Miguel arquitectos

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How Scott’s Miracle-Gro found value in vulnerability

October 10, 2017 by  
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In response to criticism about its fertilizers, the company sought to step forward as an environmental leader.

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What does it look like to embed sustainability across an organization?

October 10, 2017 by  
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Hiring a chief sustainability officer is only the beginning of a journey.

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What does it look like to embed sustainability across an organization?

Incredible Algae Dome absorbs sun and CO2 to produce superfood and oxygen

September 5, 2017 by  
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Industrial agriculture is blamed as a major cause of greenhouse gas, but what if there was a way to sustainably produce food that could help solve some of the world’s toughest environmental problems? That’s what the folks at SPACE10 , a Copenhagen-based future-living lab, tackled with the futuristic Algae Dome, a four-meter-tall food-producing architecture pavilion that pumps out oxygen in a closed-loop system. Powered by solar energy, the Algae Dome offers a sustainable and hyper-local food system that can pop up almost anywhere with minimal impact on the environment. Architects Aleksander Wadas, Rafal Wroblewski, Anna Stempniewicz, and bioengineer Keenan Pinto created the Algae Dome, which was presented at the CHART art fair in Copenhagen last week. Although SPACE10 has experimented with growing microgreens before, the team targets an even smaller food with the Algae Dome—micro-algae. Praised as a future “superfood,” micro-algae is said to contain twice as much protein as meat and is packed with vitamins and minerals, with more beta carotene than carrots and more iron than found in spinach, according to SPACE10. Even better? Micro-algae are among the world’s fastest-growing organisms and can be grown with sunshine and water almost anywhere, all while sucking up carbon dioxide and expelling oxygen in the process. Related: SPACE10 creates an open-source Growroom you can build at home During the three-day CHART art fair, the Algae Dome produced 450 liters of micro-algae and provided an interactive architectural experience that was part food system, part furniture, and wholly educational. The large amount of food was produced in a surprisingly small amount of space thanks to the design that featured 320 meters of coiled tubing, showing off the flow of emerald green micro-algae. Visitors were invited to sit inside the pavilion and enjoy a “breath of fresh air” created by the micro-algae as it converted carbon dioxide into oxygen. Packets of delicious spirulina (a type of blue-green algae) chips, created by SPACE10’s chef-in-residence Simon Perez, were placed around the pavilion to give passersby the chance to try the superfood. “In the future, different species of microalgae could be used as a form of nutrient-rich food, as a replacement for soy protein in animal feed, in the development of biofuels, as a way to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, and as a method of treating industrial wastewater,” said SPACE10. “In other words, microalgae could help combat malnutrition, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels , help stop the destruction of the rainforest, improve air quality, and reduce pollution. Little wonder that microalgae has been dubbed the future’s sustainable super crop.” SPACE10 sees the Algae Dome as the prototype for food-producing architecture that could pop up virtually anywhere, from bus stops to apartment complexes. + SPACE10 Picture credit: Niklas Adrian Vindelev

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Incredible Algae Dome absorbs sun and CO2 to produce superfood and oxygen

Breakthrough algae strain produces twice as much biofuel

June 23, 2017 by  
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Scientists have been working since the 1970’s to transform algae into biofuel . Now a new breakthrough could make this alternative energy source a more viable option. Researchers from Synthetic Genomics, Inc. and ExxonMobil were able to edit algae genes to produce two times more lipids. Those lipids can be turned into biofuel that isn’t too different from the diesel we use today. Researchers figured out how to tune a genetic switch to regulate the conversion of carbon to oil in the alga Nannochloropsis gaditana . They used multiple editing techniques including CRISPR-Cas9. They were able to boost the algae’s oil content from 20 percent to over 40 percent – and importantly, did so without stunting the algae’s growth rate. The modified algae can produce as much as five grams of lipid per meter per day. Related: New biofuel from wastewater slashes vehicle CO2 emissions by 80% Vice president for research and development at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company Vijay Swarup said the milestone confirms their belief algae can offer a source of renewable energy . Synthetic Genomics CEO Oliver Fetzer said carbon dioxide and sunlight are two major components necessary for algae production, and both are plentiful and free. According to ScienceAlert, a past report indicated biofuels from algae could become a $50 billion industry , with the potential to offer transport fuel and food security. But we still could be years away from pumping this particular algae-based biofuel into our cars at gas stations. Researcher Imad Ajjawi of Synthetic Genomics told ScienceAlert this step was just a proof of concept, but did describe it as a significant milestone. According to Greentech Media , organizations have been working on making biofuel from algae for years, without much progress towards commercialization. In fact, they cited former ExxonMobil CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson , who back in 2009 said the work on turning algae into biofuels might not come up with real results for 25 years. The journal Nature Biotechnology published a study on the concept online this month. Via ScienceAlert and Synthetic Genomics Images via ExxonMobil and Wikimedia Commons

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Vivobarefoot is launching a sneaker made out of algae

May 25, 2017 by  
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Vivobarefoot , a London-based purveyor of so-called “barefoot” footwear , is going green in an altogether unexpected way. Together with Bloom , a materials innovation firm from San Diego, the company is poised to debut the world’s first molded shoe derived from algae. No, swamp couture hasn’t suddenly become en vogue. Rather, Bloom harvests biomass from ponds and lakes, particularly those at risk for algal overload, and turns it into closed-cell foam known as ethylene-vinyl acetate, or EVA for short. Typically made from petroleum-based sources, EVA is what gives sneakers that extra-cushy feel. Vivobarefoot’s new lace-up is made almost entirely from the stuff, a fact that not only makes it equally at home on land and in water, but it also gives the environment a much-needed boost. Related: Researchers use algae to treat wastewater and generate biofuel A single pair of men’s size 42 Vivobarefoot x Bloom shoes, according to Vivobarefoot, returns 57 gallons of clean water to ecosystem while removing the equivalent of 40 balloons worth of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “This is a true revolution for the footwear industry with the first plant based alternative to the petro-foams in ubiquitous use,” said Galahad Clark, founder and managing director of Vivobarefoot, in a statement. “We are thrilled to be the first company to use Bloom in our shoes and further our mission to make the perfect shoe—perfect for feet and minimal impact on the planet.” Related: Mexico-sized algae bloom in the Arabian Sea connected to climate change The Vivobarefoot x Bloom shoe will be available for purchase online and in stores this July. + Vivobarefoot x Bloom

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Glass-encased circular Solo House snakes through a Spanish forest

May 25, 2017 by  
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Brussels-based Office KGDVS just unveiled an amazing glass-enclosed circular building that winds through a lush green forest in Spain’s mountainous Matarraña region. The curved home is built on a high plateau and clad in floor-to-ceiling windows to give the space one continual breathtaking view of its evergreen setting. Solo House II is part of a series of individual retreats designed by French developer Christian Bourdais and built by various architects. Office KGDVS put their own stamp on the second Solo Home design by placing the the concrete and glass home on top of a high plateau to provide optimal views. Related: Villa Nyberg: A Passive Swedish Prefab with a Cool Circular Floorplan “Since the scenery is so impressive, we felt architecture should be invisible, merely emphasising the natural qualities of the surroundings,” said the architects, “A simple circular roof with a diameter of 45 metres underlines the qualities of both the plateau and its edge.” The circular concrete roof is supported by multiple rows of columns that intersect throughout the length of the structure. The four sections of the home are made up of both straight and curved edges, which elongates the design. Sliding glass panels line the home’s volume, and open up to various open-air terraces. On the interior, sliding curtains made of metal mesh provide shade and privacy when needed. The home’s circular design was intended to put the focus on the home’s beautiful natural setting, but the curved shape also delivers a number of advantages. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels that run the length of the home flood the interior with natural light and reduce the need for artificial lighting. The first Solo House was built by Chilean studio Pezo Von Ellrichshausen back in 2013. According to Bourdais, the Solo House project in Matarraña will eventually be joined by 15 other houses and a hotel. + Office KGDVS + Solo Houses Via Dezeen

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Glass-encased circular Solo House snakes through a Spanish forest

Mexico-sized algae bloom in the Arabian Sea connected to climate change

March 21, 2017 by  
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Talk of climate change probably evokes images of rising sea levels or hotter temperatures, but what about algae blooms ? Scientists have made a direct connection between an algae bloom in the Arabian Sea, which has blown up to the size of Mexico, and climate change. The massive bloom has been captured from satellites . 30 years ago, algae in the Gulf of Oman could barely be seen. Now, twice a year, microscopic organisms of the species Noctiluca scintillans turns the gulf green as it sprawls throughout the Arabian Sea towards India. Scientists say conditions produced by climate change are allowing the algae to thrive. Columbia University researchers have even traced the algae blooms to ice melting in the Himalayas. Related: Florida declares state of emergency due to gigantic algae bloom Satellite technology has also allowed researchers to connect algae with greater levels of water and air pollution . NASA ocean carbon and biology projects manager Paula Bontempi told the Associated Press satellite images of the algae are beautiful, like a Van Gogh painting, but in person the algae is smelly and ugly. She said, “We know that our Earth is changing. It may be in a direction we might not like.” The phenomenon threatens local ecosystems ; algae has been known to paralyze fish . The United Nations’ science agency says in rare cases algal toxins have killed humans. Oman faces unique threats from the algae bloom. There, algae can clog pipes at desalination plants providing as much as 90 percent of fresh water for the country. Fisheries in the country could also be harmed by the algae bloom; in 2008 an eruption of a different type of algae beached 50 tons of fish, which were starving for oxygen and rotted along the coast of Oman. Saleh al-Mashari, the captain of a researcher vessel, said this algae bloom has already caused damage. He told the Associated Press, “The fish are migrating. They can’t get enough air here.” Ahmad al-Alawi, a marine ecologist, said blooms are getting larger and lasting for longer periods of time. He said the blooms displace zooplankton, which are the base of the local food chain . Via Phys.org Images via Tristan Schmurr on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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This startling video shows coral bleaching in action

August 18, 2016 by  
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Rising ocean temperatures have prompted devastating coral bleaching in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – and in some sections, at least 35 percent of bleached coral has died. Now scientists at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have scrutinized just how coral reacts to hotter temperatures in controlled conditions, and caught the process on film. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bjamypAq9Y Scientists Brett Lewis and Luke Nothdurft put Heliofungia actiniformis coral in a 10 liter “aquarium system” to see how the coral would respond as they heated the water. Over 12 hours, they increased water temperatures from 26 degrees Celsius to 32 degrees Celsius, or about 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit up to 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit. They kept the coral in the system for around eight days. Related: Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching is now more widespread than ever The coral spewed Symbiodinium algae that live in them and provide the brilliant colors we’re used to seeing in coral reefs. The algae also generate sugars consumed by the coral. Expelling algae under the duress of hot temperatures can help the coral to survive – Lewis said “rapid expulsion” could increase the coral’s chance of survival. It’s possible for coral to regain the algae and their vivid colors if conditions improve, but if ocean temperatures don’t return to normal levels and the algae doesn’t recolonize, the coral can die. Scientists have been aware of this expulsion process, but the QUT team’s video is the first to show the eviction in action. Lewis said in a press release, “What’s really interesting is just how quickly and violently the coral forcefully evicted its resident symbionts. The H. actiniformis began ejecting the symbionts within the first two hours of us raising the water temperature of the system.” Northdurft said coral bleaching is a “concern for scientists globally.” The journal Coral Reefs published their research online earlier this month. + Queensland University of Technology

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This startling video shows coral bleaching in action

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