Algae has been making rounds in the fashion world as part of a running shoe. But beyond a sustainable footwear material, it’s also a crucial superfood — and this algae structure produces it.
The Algae Dome is a four-meter-high… pavilion that houses a photo-bioreactor, a closed system primed to produce microalgae at high quantities.
In just three days, the dome is capable of producing 450 liters of algae. It’s ultimate goal is to call attention to the product’s high nutritional value and unique characteristics.
Not only is algae rich in nutrients, containing twice as much protein as meat, it’s also packed with vitamins and minerals like iron.
Hear that, filet mignon? You’ve got competition. Being the fastest-growing plant species, various industries ought to pay more attention to the green gem. It can even grow in polluted water, which is practical in this day and age. Looks like a brighter future could be in store for us, thanks to this unexpected savior.
In a salad, algae may not seem too appetizing, but it sure is a fashion statement. Clarks recently released a shoe made from biomass algae, which seems to have tipped off a trend. Designers now want in on the action, specifically Julian Melchiorri, who built a green chandelier that purifies air.
The green lighting piece is composed of 70 glass leaves filled with green algae, which absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. The transparent liquid filters through light, giving off a warm glow.
The display, called Exhale, is functional indoors and outdoors. It can also take on various forms depending on necessity. How, then, does the algae work its magic? Simple — photosynthesis. Melchiorri is all about function and the environment, and it’s not going unnoticed.
For his efforts, Melchiorri was awarded the Emerging Talent Award during London Design Week, which is given out to individuals who have made an impact within five years of graduation.
It may still be a prototype, but Exhale has surely left its mark on the design industry. With more people like Melchiorri, we may be able to restore the environment — one leaf at a time.
Powering motorcycles and stringing together running shoes, algae is the eco-material of the year. So far, it seems capable of almost anything. Taking the next step, Dutch designers are 3D printing the stuff in the hopes of replacing synthetic plastics.
“Our idea is that in the future there will be a shop on every street corner where you can ‘bake’ organic raw materials, just like fresh bread,” said [designer Eric] Klarenbeek.
If the concoction goes commercial, it can replace oils, which are vital in the production of bottles and containers. A complete cherry on top, algae is also highly absorbent of carbon dioxide, which makes production sustainable.
“In this relatively brief period, a vast amount of carbon dioxide has been released into the atmosphere, with damaging consequences. It is therefore important that we clean the CO2 from the atmosphere as quickly as possible and this can be done by binding the carbon to biomass.”
Along with partner Maartje Dros, Klarenbeek has been on a steady mission to create less wasteful industries. Why spend time on DIY furniture when you can simply grow them?
Developers have been doing everything to ensure the eco-friendliness of future vehicles. They are engineering sustainable commutes and even air-purifying bicycles. However, no one has gone as far as scientist Peter Mooij, whose brainchild is a wooden motorcycle powered by algae.
The single-sided swingarm is made with birch and oak, with an oiled cork/oak damper and a cork insert to provide a compression zone in the spring. The rear single-sided swingarm is made from solid oak, with some cork between the arm and the frame.
A fully functional wooden vehicle? I thought those were called wagons. As for the bike’s eco-fuel, microalgae produce oil, which is perfect for a diesel engine.
“Algae oil has some great advantages. Algae do photosynthesis and by this process algae convert CO2 from the atmosphere into oil. If this oil is burnt in Rits’ motorcycle CO2 is emitted, but the amount of CO2 emitted exactly equals the amount of CO2 the algae took up from the atmosphere.”
To put it simply, we lose nothing, which is pretty darn practical. Mooij is still working towards an enhanced model of the motorcycle. In the meantime, an extensive Google search on microalgae may be on my agenda.
I’ll admit–while I’m all for recycled fashion, I am useless with a needle and thread. That being said, I am always on the hunt for sustainable pieces I can add to my wardrobe. As a huge fan of Clarks footwear, I was quick to jump on pre-orders for their new Vivobarefoot Ultra Blooms, which are made from biomass algae.
The soft, super-light running shoes use the same design as Vivobarefoot’s regular Ultra line. They’re flexible enough to scrunch up into a ball, with a thin white sole that’s topped by a perforated upper. They’re built for use on dry land and in rivers and oceans, where the Swiss-cheese holes flush water out.
Algae, which, in excess, damages marine habitats and reduces drinkable water supply, is a practical and affordable material for production.
Clark says the foam in each pair of Ultra Blooms will recycle 57 gallons of filtered water back into natural habitats while saving 40 party balloons worth of carbon dioxide by removing the excess algae from the environment.
According to Clarks, with the amount of algae available worldwide, billions of pairs of shoes can be easily manufactured.
Would you run a marathon in these shoes?