Liquid Wood Is Plastic of Tomorrow

Posted by on July 29th, 2009

Norbert Eisenreich, a senior researcher and deputy of directors at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) in Pfinztal, Germany, said his team of scientists have come up with a substance that could replace plastic: Arboform — basically, liquid wood.

It is derived from wood pulp-based lignin and can be mixed with a number of other materials to create a strong, non-toxic alternative to petroleum-based plastics, Eisenreich said, as reported by DPA news agency.

Car parts and other durable items made of this bio-plastic already exist, but the chemical hadn’t been suitable for household use until now, due to the high content of sulphurous substances used in separating the lignin from the cell fibers.

The German researchers were able to reduce the sulphur content in Arborform by about 90 percent, making it much safer for use in everyday items.

Bolstering Arboform’s environmental credentials, Eisenreich’s team also discovered that the substance was highly recyclable.

“To find that out, we produced components, broke them up into small pieces, and re-processed the broken pieces — 10 times in all. We did not detect any change in the material properties of the low-sulphur bio-plastic, so that means it can be recycled,” said Inone-Kauffmann.

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Disolving Dress

Posted by on October 27th, 2008

No, I’m not talking about how dresses from mall alt-fashion stores spontaniously disintergrate after wearing them once, I’m talking about Professor Helen Storey and Professor Tony Ryan’s new eco-friendly art dresses:

The fabric is made from a clear polymer, polyvinyl alcohol. The dresses dissolve at a pace that they will be able to survive a sweaty party. In an upcoming exhibition, eight dissolvable dresses will be put into enormous goldfish bowls where they will slowly liquefy.

Prof. Ryan had this to say on the sheer and transient gowns:

The dresses Helen has created are a metaphor for the beautiful things we create and use but never really think about and just throw away. In your lifetime you throw away around 20 tonnes of packaging material. We want people to think about that. But it has made us think more seriously about science, too,



Bioplastics grown in Switchgrass

Posted by on August 14th, 2008

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This past Monday Metabolix announced an incredible development: they have found a way to generate “significant amounts” of ecologically-sound bioplastic by growing it in directly in switchgrass. The fast-growing perennial plant is paving the way for a sustainable source of Mirel, the company’s biodegradable brand of bioplastic.

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Mirel is a versatile bioplastic with has many uses including food packaging, agricultural products, and consumer goods. It’s tough and durable, resistant to heat and hot liquids, and completely biodegrades when exposed to microbial activity in soil, marine environments, or compost piles.

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Now Metabolix can make Mirel by combining genes of naturally occurring substances to produce a polyhydroxybutyrate (PHA) polymer that grows directly in switchgrass. As an added bonus, once the polymer has been harvested, the leftover plant can be used as a source for biomass energy. An efficient and versatile source of bioplastic such as this is sure to enable future generations of eco-friendly industrial design

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Living Lounge Chair: Crazy Krejci’s Eco Ball Garden Chair

Posted by on June 3rd, 2008

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Being the Dutch design aficionados that we are, we don’t think we’ll ever get tired of playful Dutch design, especially when it’s as sustainable and delightful as Krejci’s ‘Let’s Grow Some Balls!’ chair, which is both a planter and chair all in one. A garden chair that IS the garden, users are brought closer to nature by being surrounded with it.

The ‘Eco-ball’ chair we saw at the Tuttobene show in Milan was a prototype, but designer Krejci is speaking to various potential partners in the injection moulding industry, aiming to release a variety of different models in different eco-materials, from recycled plastic, biodegradeable plastic and shredded wood that’s held together using natural plastic that biodegrades with heat. Dutch recycled plastic company AKG Polymer is already working with them.

Krejci’s design also tackles another problem associated with conventional design: users simply getting bored with the look and throwing it away. The constantly growing, changing and evolving contents maintain the user’s interest, and as people spend more time and effort tending to their chair-garden, a deeper relationship between user and furniture should blossom.

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Ricky Swallow’s Wood Sculptures

Posted by on May 30th, 2008

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VERTERRA: Dishware Made From Fallen Leaves

Posted by on May 17th, 2008

While nothing beats reusable dishware for your festive events, these biodegradable plates from VerTerra are a great alternative to yucky paper or plastic dishes. VerTerra (true to the Earth) plates are made from organically-grown palm tree leaves from India. The fallen leaves, which would traditionally have been burned on the roadside, are collected, sterilized, steamed and pressed into plates. The process uses no chemicals, glues or bonding agents, and over 80% of the water used during the steaming and pressing process is recaptured and recycled. Best of all, VerTerra’s plates are 100% natural and biodegradable!

VerTerra dishes are microwave, oven and freezer safe. And, because they are made from only leaves, they are fully compostable and biodegrade in as little as six weeks. VerTerra’s manufacturing facility in India is fair trade, ensuring that production adheres to principles of sustainable communities as well as materials.

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Feeder for Zombie Birds Who Want to Eat Humans

Posted by on May 16th, 2008

When the Z-Wars get ugly, you’ll want a bird feeder made of real human ashes to keep those zombie birds distracted. Luckily, one of U.K. designer Nadine Jarvis’ recent projects is this teardrop-shaped bird feeder made of real bird feed and human ashes. It’s part of a larger project she’s doing on the post-mortem world.

The University of London grad won a $20,000 grant from the Design Museum in 2006 and spent that money to set up a design studio and delve into different ways to express death. Aside from the bird feeder, there’s a ceramic urn that disintegrates over the course of three years and pencils made from the carbon in human remains.

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What’s driving innovation in food packaging

Posted by on April 23rd, 2008

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Packaging designers need to think more laterally, and in terms of systems, rather than discrete elements, says a report into food packaging by trend research group The Future Laboratory. They claim packaging designers need to think about the challenges facing them – from preservation, cost-effectiveness and brand experience to sustainability and waste minimisation – in a more holistic way.

But while consumer concerns about materials and waste reduction have formed the basis for design thinking in packaging over the past decade, concepts such as downgauging, light-weighting, concentrating, and the use of biodegradable, recyclable and renewable materials need to move on, says the report.

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Hardtack Houseware

Posted by on April 7th, 2008

Straight outta Japan is this delicious development in designer dishware.

Made from hardtack – once the torture device rations of choice on the high seas – a combination of water, flour and salt, these plates, bowls and chopsticks are meant to replace the disposable ones used in the ORTO CAFE.

Created by designer Nobuhiko Arikawa of Rice-Design these bowls are able to stay usable for months as long as they’re kept relatively dry.

Not the greatest design feature in a restaurant, but they are fully biodegradable and are an optional snack for later, if you can handle the taste.

While rather backwards in technology, the idea that we can get rid of the the future-mounds of disposable cutlery, plates, bowls etc is good no matter how much you may sneer at the idea of eating noodles off a glorified biscuit. The more world we have left the conquer…eh?

Here is the original article at Dezeen Design Blog. The designer himself comments at the bottom.