Tang - can seaweed become a reliable sustainable material ressource?
Assignment: Material Narratives
Designers: Lloyd Revald & Natálie Vencovská
Kirsten Holmstrup, Marine biologists
Kristian Borgbjergaard, Owner of Venoe Seafood
Jonah Coleman Osawa, Designer and specialized in Seaweed
Problem and why
This project has its roots in investigating kelp/seaweed as a reliable resource for the future. We are exploring the possibilities of using kelp as a new raw material. We are fascinated by its many qualities, low impact on nature, low manufacturing need, possible replacing of current materials and interest in combining old and new. We are especially interested in exploring kelp in association with natural recycled textiles because of its possible interesting abilities.
Our goal is to be able to create a future proposal for a reliable sustainable resource/material to harvest in a responsible way, implemented with a textile. We are interested in creating a natural hybrid material to be used in an object or for weaving and eventually creating a new way of using seaweed. This objective also has it roots in UN sustainable goal nr. 12, sustainable consumption and production.
Seaweed or kelp is the name for an vegetable algae devided in three types: red, brown and green. It is found in both rivers, lakes and in the ocean. It is essential to marine creatures, both as food and as habitat.
Seaweed is photosynthetic, so it needs sunlight. It converts sunlight to energy through photosynthesis. Seaweed or kelp is also CO2 negative. With this, seaweed and kelp might help to fulfill several sustainable development goals created by the UN. We suggest the potential in several goals such as:
GOAL 2: Zero Hunger, GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being, GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, GOAL 14: Life Below Water, GOAL 15: Life on Land and GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Challenge framing and ideation
How might we create a future proposal for a reliable sustainable resource/material to harvest in a responsible way implemented with a textile?
Introduction to local kelp
In the beginning we searched to understanding what we had found at several local beaches around Kolding, Denmark. We focused on mapping the materials and their attributes but also investigate the possible sustainable harvesting possibilities. Within the local range of alges we found: green nori, sea moss, toothed wrack and sea wool as pictured.
Fascination by kelp and what it might be capable of
Seaweed comes in many forms, shapes and colors and has material potential in different industries such a food - especially known and used in Japan.
Since 71 % of the Earth’s surface is water-covered* - it makes good sense to look towards the ocean for help.
Seaweed as a secret weapon
Algaes [...] can be up to 400 times more efficient than a tree at removing CO2 from the atmosphere*.
Algaes can consume more carbon dioxide than trees because it can cover more surface area, grow faster through photosynthesis.
Kelp forests are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth, absorbing vast amounts of carbon dioxide in order to grow.
If ocean farmers devoted a little less than 5 percent of U.S. waters to growing seaweed, they could clean up an estimated 135 million tons of carbon and 10 million tons of nitro- gen, according to a report from the World Bank.*
Kelp can possibly be grown
Growing on wood frames using recycled fibers we explored the potential of growing seaweed as a reliable sustainable material ressource. We were particular curious how to do it and harvest it.
We started out by starting small. The frames has a structure that was easy to work with and might encourage people to self-grow seaweed using recycled fibers as a way to grow kelp in a structured way as a reliable material ressource. This idea came as a combination of weaving and industrial design.
The test was inconclusive though. Not the right season and limited by time. Essentially it would be possible in right conditions.
Warp and weft
Since the frames had to work themselves, we had to look for new potentials. This made us be curious in how textiles and kelp could collaborate and possible act as a raw element in weaving.
Kelp can be bioplastic
Bioplastic can give new potentials to seaweed and add new new perspectives on how to use it. We used it from the raw material to mechanically touched by: blending it, boiling it and use glycerin to create bioplastic. This resulted in giving seaweed a hybrid potential. It also made us understand the properties better for instance the surface, light potential and structure.
Throughout our research and investigation we have become aware of how incredible nature is. How the evolution and the master mind behind these incredible plants can be used for so many applications - we have only seen a little part of it. Once again the applicability of kelp is yet to be seen, however more than ever we need new sustainable materials that can challenge the way we perceive materials and food. Kelp has an incredible story and harvesting it from the sea made us stunned by the accessibility it has, yet it is not been applied more into our modern lifestyles. We wonder why this ressource hasnt been used more. Japan and America is apparently big suppliers of kelp and america has started water farms that engange people to harvest their own seaweed. In Northern Norway these amount of material are everywhere and because kelp grows locally we should embrace this opportunity. Our investigation has made it clean that we all don't have the same types of kelp but maybe thats the strength of this material? And its democratic possibilties are almost endless. We want more people to be aware of this and that is why we are satisfied with the efforts of our research so far. Finally we have understood that wildness for nature is the way forward instead of industrialization aswell as nothing is 100% sustainable as long as we live. We have to protect areas which would provide healthy oceans and ecosystems - thats sustainability both for us and the planet.
An investigation book
We have realized throughout the project that we are creating awareness and addressing the possibilities in kelp. Our final product is a book which is focused around sharing information, local harvesting and inspire to create seaweed farms. But also questioning instead of answering as well as purposeful contextualizing. Finally realizing the importance of questioning.
Our findings and outcome is proudly capsulated in a physical book, printed on recycled paper, which includes our investigation, our stories along the way and tons of visuals to emphasize the beauty and wonders of Seaweed. This book is made to inspire designers, people, educators, explorers & governments to spread the wonders and stories of seaweed - and spark imagination.
Mouritsen. G. Ole, Americanscientist (2013). Science of Seaweeds. Found 01.09 2020, https://www.americansci- entist.org/article/the-science-of-seaweeds
NOOA, National Ocean Service, Nationaloceanservice.com (2018). Facts of seaweed. Found 01.09 2020, https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/seaweed.html
Hurlimann. Sylvia, Harvard EDu, Havard University (2019). Facts of seaweed. Found 01.09 2020, http://sitn.hms. harvard.edu/flash/2019/how-kelp-naturally-combats-global-climate-change/
Lavars, Nick. Newatlas.com (2019), Algae-fueled bioreactor soaks up CO2 400x more effectively than trees, Found 01.09.2020, https://newatlas.com/environment/algae-fueled-bioreactor-carbon-sequestration/
Cimons, Marlene, Peril and Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change (2019), A new generation of ocean farm- ers are reducing pollution with seaweed, Found 01.09.2020, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/peril-and-prom-ise/2019/05/ocean-farmers-seaweed/
Eurpean Parliment, (2009), Water – 71% of the Earth's surface, but still scarce, Found 01.09.2020, https://www. europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+IM-PRESS+20070329STO04903+0+DOC+XML+V0// EN