image technical materials resource-based economy Kadagaya

A long-term goal in the development of appropriate technologies is the development of technical materials. Many highly functional modern materials already exist e.g. for insulation, construction, waterproofing, windows, sealing, and fire resistance. However, many of these materials are expensive, require high-technology production techniques, and often contain toxic chemicals. We plan to develop equivalent technologies that are renewable, require minimal processing, mimic nature, are environmentally friendly, and can be fabricated from materials that can be easily grown or obtained from the natural environment in a sustainable way. For example rubbers can be obtained from various plants, biopolymers (plastics) can be produced from starch (from potatoes or corn), fibres from flax, bamboo, hemp etc. and insulating material from mycelium (mushrooms).

The first priority is the development of appropriate construction materials due to the high level of waste and contamination in this industry. The development of such materials will begin in theoretical design and laboratory-scale tests, with the long-term aim of constructing some buildings on the campus to demonstrate the technologies. Due to its various advantages and technical experience of the Kadagaya team, the first focus will be in developing sandwich structures made from moulded sheets of fibre-reinforced polymer composite (similar to fibreglass, but using natural fibres, and biopolymers such as PLA). The insulation between the composite sheets will be made from mycelium foam. Organic waste material (e.g., wood chips or coconut husks) can be mixed with mycelium spores and filled into moulds (in this case between the two composite sheets), where the mycelium processes the organic material to form a natural foam-like network with good insulating properties. Due to our proximity to a large pineapple industry, we plan to trial pineapple fibres, which could provide a long-term value-added product prepared with a waste agricultural material.

image of a composite sandwich panel consisting of natural fibres and biopolymer, technical materials resource-based economy Kadagaya

 

Suggested links

·        Eben Bayer: Are mushrooms the new plastic? TED talk (Youtube)

·        William Mcdonough: Cradle-to-cradle design (TED talk)

·        Open Source Ecology: Polylactic acid biopolymer (wiki)

·        Building with bamboo (TED talk)

·        3D printing: Rep-Rap (Youtube)