Algae Alchemy

Dutch Turn Seaweed into 3-D Household Items




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Dutch designers Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros have been cultivating live algae and processing it into material that can be used for 3-D printing. This algae polymer can be turned into everyday items from shampoo bottles to bowls and trash bins. They hope it could replace petroleum-based plastics to help alleviate our unsustainable consumption of fossil fuels. They have also experimented with other biopolymers such as mycelium (fungi), potato starch and cocoa bean shells.

The pair now operate a research and algae production lab at the Luma Foundation, in Arles, France. They point out that their creations do more than just replace plastic—algae can also suck up carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas driver of global climate change. They explain, “The algae grow by absorbing the carbon and producing a starch that can be used as a raw material for bioplastics or binding agents. The waste product is oxygen—clean air.”


This article appears in the July 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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