ALGAE LAB

Objective

Algae Lab is located at the site of LUMA in Arles, and is focusing on the wetland specific bio-based material in order to come to new value propositions. In particular, Studio Klarenbeek & Dros research the potential of algae as an alternative for non-biodegradable plastics. The development of a polymer from algae can be used to grow and create consumables and innovative products. The serie of objects are related to the culture and history of the region, as utensils from the depot of Musee Departemental Arles Antique. The objects should be conceived to serve the needs of various users and consumers of the museum and region. The laboratory displays the production chain so the visitor can experience the whole cycle of production from the raw material to the final product.

Description

Studio Klarenbeek & Dros on Algae
‘Algae produce the majority of oxygen we breath in, by binding carbon dioxides and converting it into biomass, as they absorb carbon (C) and produce O2 as a waste product: clean air.. In a relatively brief period, humans released a vast amount of CO2 into the atmosphere, from organic matter that lay buried in the ground for millions of years. With effects such as global heating, acidification of the oceans as a result, it’s important to bind CO2 from the atmosphere as quickly as possible. And this can be done by binding the carbon to biomass. As designers, we love nothing more than producing mass: products and materials. So, for us it’s the golden formula. Everything that surrounds us our – products, houses and cars – 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.’

Ongoing research on Algae of Studio Klarenbeek & Dros
‘In our research, we are concerned with binding carbon to biomass and converting algae into a biopolymer. Algae can produce polysaccharides and starches. Instead of using fossil plastics, adding up even more CO2 or biopolymers from corn or potatoes, which is at the expense of our food and land, we’re focussing on Seagriculture, the cultivation of for instance macroalga [seaweed] in sea. As it grows, it filters the seawater, absorbing CO2 and producing a starch that can be used as a raw material for bioplastics or binding agents.

After three years of research with Salga Seaweeds, Danvos, Wageningen University, Avans Biobased Lab in Breda and other institutes, we were invited to establish an open research and production lab at the luma Foundation in Arles. Here, since February 2017, we have worked with Luma on social and local production in Arles region. The CO2 emissions and pollution from factories at the mouth of the Rhone are filtered by algae, with the by-product: Biomass. We are attempting to build a bridge between scientific research and the local economy.

We have 3d scanned historical roman glassware found in the river Rhone from the collection of the Musee Departemental in Arles and reproduced them with locally grown algae from this same region. In the Algae Lab, local native species are researched and processed into biopolymers, that can replace fossil plastics. In principle, we can make anything from this local algae polymer: from shampoo bottles to tableware or rubbish bins. Our ambition is to provide local companies, such as restaurants and catered events in the city with tableware from the AlgaeLab.’

Mission atelier LUMA
Algae Lab is part of atelier LUMA, a non-profit program that sets out to actively experiment with design and creative intelligence, in rethinking more ecologically sound and regionally embedded forms of production. The work begins in Arles and the Camargue. Through publications and conferences of a comprehensive set of design-based research, projects shall evolve through knowledge partners; and a plethora of interconnected design/business/research shall spawn new relations and new ways of working.

Targets

Food industry and design industry

Pros

  • Very versatile project
  • Good ethics of creation
  • Consumables, innovative and biodegradable products

Cons

  • Algae availability
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