Self-Initiated 2015 – ongoing
De Algarum Natura originated as an investigation in the possibility of making effective use of the vast amount of seaweeds, which constantly accumulate on the worldwide strands. Triggered by the potential residing within such overflow of marine biomass, Officina Corpuscoli decided to explore the possibility of creating materials from algae, by first extracting and than re-combining their main constituting components, for the creation of novel compounds.
Algae incorporate many different components, as for instance natural binders; agar-agar and carrageenan are some of those. Once extracted, these components can be re-combined for the creation of a range of usable materials.
By utilising different products extracted from seaweeds, a palette of diverse material samples has been created.
Officina Corpuscoli is now conducting a deeper investigation, aiming to identify and further research the qualities and the potential of different seaweed species. Such process will allow gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the subject as well as a wider range of optional trajectories for the generation of a large variety of performative, algae-based biomaterials.
The ultimate aim of the project is to produce different qualities of materials (e.g. hard, translucent, flexible, resistant), by exclusively making use of seaweeds and of the products they embed, without needing to use any additional/external component.
All the materials developed are 100% biobased and fully biodegradable and consist of components directly extracted from seaweeds; additionally, some materials utilise a natural plasticiser (glycerol) and a natural acid (vinegar).
All species of seaweed are very rich in nutrients and they contain a large amount of valuable components. The three selected seaweeds which are currently under research (Ulva Lactuca, Laminaria Saccharina and Fucus Vesiculosus) are no exception.
Along the research process, the studio engaged in a collaboration with John Huiberts/Danvos BV. The company mainly works with three types of seaweed mentioned above, for the production of a natural fertiliser, utilised for the growth of the world’s only biological flower bulbs (production site located in St. Maartensvlotbrug). Following an alkaline extraction process, a fibrous (waste) material is left behind. Such waste streams constitute ‘the basis’ for creating novel algae-based biomaterials with diverse qualities.
Huiberts/Danvos BV accumulates a constant flow of waste algal biomass. The established collaboration with such actor promises to guarantee a constant input of raw/waste materials at a very low cost (or no cost at al) for the creation of algae biomaterials. The collaboration has been established thanks to contact with Klaas Timmermans from NIOZ (Nederalands Instituut voor Onderzoek aan Zee), which is also backing up the research phase and expressed interest in the project’s future developments.
The fundamental collaboration established with Huiberts/Danvos BV guarantees that all the valuable components are used and that nothing gets wasted along the way; the company uses the extracted nutrients as a natural fertiliser, while the studio implements the fibrous waste material, still rich in alginates (binders), for creating novel materials.
At Officina Corpuscoli, we are currently utilising and processing the waste resources (seaweed biomass), recombining them into materials’ sheets, which can be later formed into 3-dimensional products.
This reduces waste and creates an optimal value chain for the materials and for the resulting products.
After use, the materials can simply be disposed of, by composting it.
At the present time, the studio is working on the development and on the creation of a collection of algae-based products and applications.
Concept, design and development:
Maurizio Montalti (OC) in collaboration with Twan de Vaal
Maurizio Montalti (OC), Twan de Vaal
Huiberts/Danvos BV, NIOZ