A student came up with this green alternative to plastic
Lately, innovators are increasingly experimenting with seaweed and other forms of algae, in an effort to make use of eco-friendly materials for the production of new items. Ari Jónsson, a design student at the Iceland Academy of the Arts, is one of them. After reading about the amount of plastic waste produced every year, he wanted to develop a replacement material, so he combined red algae powder with water to create a biodegradable bottle. His project was exhibited during this year's Reykjavik design festival DesignMarch from 10 to 13 March 2016.
"I read that 50% of plastic is used once and then thrown away so I feel there is an urgent need to find ways to replace some of the unreal amount of plastic we make, use and throw away each day," Jónsson said. "Why are we using materials that take hundreds of years to break down in nature to drink from once and then throw away?" he wonders.
In the US alone, approximately 50 billion plastic water bottles are used each year. But according to Ban The Bottle, America’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23%, which means that, every year, 38 billion water bottles wind up in overflowing landfills.
How to make a bottle from algae
When algae powder (agar) is added to water, it forms a jelly-like material. After experimenting to find the right proportions, Jónsson slowly heated the substance before pouring it into a bottle-shaped mold that had been kept in the freezer. He then submerged the mold into a bucket of ice-cold water and rotated it until the liquid inside had taken the shape of the bottle. Finally he placed it in a refrigerator for a few minutes before the agar bottle was extracted from the mold. As long as the bottle is full of water, it keeps its shape, but as soon as it is empty, it will begin to decompose. The bottle is made from 100% natural materials, so the water stored inside it is safe to drink. However, after a while it may absorb some flavor from the bottle.
Other algae projects
Algae is lately used in various experimental projects. The Urban Algae Canopy acts as a shelter that produces shade, energy in the form of biomass and as much oxygen as produced by four hectares of woodland. The Algae Farm, a network of transparent tubes filled with circulating algae and attached to bridges or underpasses, absorbs CO2 produced by cars and trucks and turns it into biomass, used to create things like biodiesel, green electricity and cosmetic products. Seaweed has recently been used as architectural cladding and to create lampshades. Algae also provided a base material to a dye for colouring textiles and has even been implemented as an energy source to power buildings.
Source: Dezeen magazine