New applications for seagrass

Bison code: L.28289

Designers Marijke Bruggink and Conny Groenewegen, in collaboration with ArtEZ Future Makers, are looking for an interdisciplinary student team to experiment with the material seagrass and help think about new material applications for their research project.

Introduction

More and more stakeholders in fashion and textile chains see the importance of radical changes for a sustainable and circular economy. Natural, renewable raw materials and waste streams from the agro-food sector pose a challenge for designers to develop products within circular and locally organized value chains.

Inspired by the future vision ‘The Netherlands in 2120’ (https://www.wur.nl/nl/Dossiers/dossier/Nederland-in-2120.html) in which there is a lot of room for ‘hydraulic engineering’, this project investigates the possibilities of (re)using seagrass crops for sustainable applications, looking at the entire chain of cultivation, harvesting, processing, production, (re)use and waste processing. This was the reason for seeking contact with several important partners in the chain, such as The Fieldwork Company, which is conducting research into the restoration of eelgrass in the Wadden Sea region and has developed a successful method for growing eelgrass under controlled conditions.

The leaves of Southern European and Asian seagrasses that are traditionally used as filling material for e.g. pillows and mattresses or as raw material for e.g. mats, baskets and chair upholstery, differ greatly from Northern European seagrasses. The natural seagrasses produce a lot of leaf litter annually in spring and autumn, which is often seen as undesirable for local water recreation. The question is whether the leaf litter from these North Sea grasses can be given a sustainable application in the short term. In the longer term, the question is relevant whether artificially cultivated seagrass, based on the techniques developed by the company, also has potential as a sustainable, renewable, locally produced and processed raw material, partly in the context of ‘Netherlands 2120’.

Focus of project:

  • examine technical specifications: cellulose content, tensile strength in moist and dry condition, processing possibilities to serve as a base (e.g. thread or nonwoven), possibly in combination with another fiber, for making textiles.
  • potential application outside of textiles/ or stretch the concept of textiles, consider pigment, fragrance, composite, etc.
  • Public communication of new, local materials and of new agricultural context towards sea and water agriculture

Cluster: Bio-based Building Materials

This project contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):